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National Statistics

Family relationships are defined as violence between persons related through blood, marriage, co-habitation (in the case of common-law partners), foster care, or adoption. Family violence refers to violent Criminal Code offences, ranging from uttering threats and physical and sexual violence to homicide. This definition does not include dating relationships; however, these relationships are included in statistics on intimate partner relationships in the next section. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016. Published January 2018)

  • According to the 2014 General Social Survey, an estimated 4% of women and men in a current or previous spousal relationship experienced spousal violence during the previous five years. Of those reporting spousal violence, 14% of women and 12% of men reported being victimized by a former partner.  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016)

  • According to the 2014 General Social Survey, an estimated 14% of women and men in a current or former spousal relationship reported being a victim of emotional or financial abuse in their lifetime.  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016)
 

  • Only 2 in 10 victims of spousal abuse reported their victimization to police while an additional 1 in 10 victims reported that police became aware of the abuse in some other way. For 7 in 10 victims, police were never made aware of the abuse. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016)

  • 36% of victims of spousal abuse reported contacting or using formal victims’ services.  The most frequently reported service used was that of a counselor, psychologist or social worker.  68% of victims sought informal support from family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, lawyers, medical care providers, or spiritual advisors. While a higher proportion of women than men reported accessing most formal and informal supports, a similar proportion of women and men turned to co-workers, lawyers and ministers or priests. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016)
 
  • According to police-reported data for 2016, victims of family violence accounted for just over 1 in 4 victims of violent crime (26%). Most victims of family violence (47%) were victimized by a current or former spouse, including legal and common-law partners. Another 18% of family violence victims were victimized by their parent, 14% by an extended family member, 11% by a sibling and 10% by a child. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • 78% of victims of police-reported spousal violence were female. Male victims were more likely to report victimization by parents, children, siblings or other family members (69%) compared with female victims (45%).  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

Intimate partner violence

  • Intimate partner violence includes violence between spouses or dating partners in current or former relationships. Spouses are defined as current or former legally married, separated, divorced and common-law partners. Dating partners include boyfriends/girlfriends (current and former) and other intimate partners (sexual relationships or situations involving mutual sexual attraction which were not considered to be a dating relationship). (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • Almost 3 in 10 victims of police-reported violent crime age 15 and older (28%) were victims of intimate partner violence. Almost 8 in 10 victims (79%) were women. Intimate partner violence was the leading type of violence experienced by women in 2016 (42% of female victims of violence).  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • In 2016, women made up 79% of intimate partner homicides with a rate of intimate partner homicide almost four times that for men. 80% of persons accused of intimate partner homicide were men. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • In 2016 4% of all intimate partner homicides involved same-sex partners. Between 2006 and 2016, 14% of male intimate partner homicide victims were killed by a same-sex partner and 85% of victims of same-sex intimate partner homicide were male.  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

Sexual Violence

  • In the Criminal Code sexual assaults are classified into three categories based on the severity of the incident.  Level 1 sexual assault criminalizes assault of a sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of a person, level 2 criminalizes sexual assault that involves the use of a weapon, bodily harm or threats to cause bodily harm, and level 3 criminalizes sexual assault which wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of another person. (Source: Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2016)

  • According to the General Social Survey rates of self-reported sexual victimization remained relatively stable between 1999 and 2014.  In 52% of sexual assaults disclosed in the survey the perpetrator was the victim’s friend, acquaintance or neighbor; 87% of sexual assaults involved a female victim. Only 5% of sexual assaults were brought to the attention of police. Note that in 2014 this category was expanded to include non-consensual sexual relations because the victim was drugged, manipulated or forced in some other way than physical. This type of sexual assault comprised 9% of sexual assaults reported in the survey. (Source: Criminal Victimization in Canada, 2014)

  • Overall the rate of police-reported sexual assault declined from 1999 to 2014 but increased by 3% in 2015 and then decreased by 1% in 2016. In 2016 the majority of sexual assaults (98%) were classified as level 1. Between 2015 and 2016 the rate of level 1and level 2 sexual assaults decreased by 1% while the rate of level 3 sexual assault increased by 6%. In 2017 Canadian media revealed variations in how police record sexual assaults as unfounded which may have had an impact on official statistics. (Source: Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2016)

Abuse of Older Adults

  • Based on police-reported incidents of violence against seniors in 2016, one-third (34%) were victimized by a family member, one in five (21%) were victimized by a casual acquaintance, and one-quarter (25%) were victimized by a stranger. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • One third of senior victims of police-reported family violence (32%) were victimized by their child, 27% were victimized by a spouse, 12% were victimized by a sibling , and 29% were victimized by another extended family member.  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • Six in ten (58%) of senior victims of police-reported family violence were women with a rate 19% higher than that of male seniors.  (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)
  • According to 2016 police-reported data, common assault was the most frequently reported form of family violence against seniors, experienced by more than half (54%) of seniors victimized by a family member. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

Violence Against Children and Youth

  • According to the 2008 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, the most recent year for which data are available, in 34% of substantiated cases of child maltreatment the primary type of maltreatment was exposure to intimate partner violence; in 34% of cases the primary type of maltreatment was neglect; in 20% physical abuse, in 9% emotional maltreatment and in 3% sexual abuse. (Source: Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect– 2008. Pub. 2010)

  • For the first time, the 2014 General Social Survey asked respondents about their experiences of childhood maltreatment including both physical and sexual abuse.  Close to one-third of respondents (30%) reported being victims of some form of abuse by an adult at least once before the age of 15;  22% reported experiencing physical abuse; 3% reported sexual abuse, and 5% experienced both physical and sexual violence. (Source: Criminal Victimization in Canada, 2014)

  • Experiencing violence as a child has been found to be linked to being a victim of spousal violence later in life.  In the 2014 General Social Survey almost half (48%) of spousal violence victims stated they had been subjected to childhood physical and/or sexual abuse compared with 32% of those in nonviolent spousal relationships. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016) 

  • In addition, twice as many respondents who experienced spousal violence reported witnessing abuse committed by a parent, step-parent or guardian as a child (21%) compared with respondents who had not experienced spousal violence (11%). (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016)

  • Over half (51%) of all spousal violence victims with one or more children reported that they believed their children saw the spousal violence take place. Child Protection Services were reported to have been contacted in less than one third (31%) of cases where a child witnessed spousal violence. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2014 - pub. Jan 2016)

  • In 2016, 30% of child and youth victims of police reported violence were victims of family violence. The rate of victimization of female children and youth was 1.5 times higher than that of males. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • The relationship of the perpetrator varied with the age of the child or youth. 87% of infants under one and 79% of children aged one to three were reported to be victimized by a parent.  In contrast half (49%) of youth age 12-17 were reported to be victimized by a parent, one quarter (26%) were reported to be victimized by an extended family member, and 19% were reported to be victimized by a sibling. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018).  Sibling violence is harmful and may have serious short and long term, sometimes life-time impacts yet it is often overlooked. (http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/issue-21-sibling-violence)

  • Female youth age 14 and 15 were twice as likely as male youth to be victimized by a family member. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)
  • In 2016 the most common type of family-related violence against children and youth was physical assault followed by sexual offences (rates of 133 and 73 per 100,000 population, respectively).  While rates of physical assault were similar for male and female children and youth, the rates of sexual offences against females were 4.5 times higher than rates for males. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • According to the 2014 General Social Survey, 30% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported experiencing some form of child abuse; 26% experienced physical abuse and 8% experienced sexual abuse. The vast majority (93%) did not speak about the abuse to authorities before they turned 15; 67% reported that they spoke to no one about their victimization including informal supports such as family members, friend, teachers and doctors. As a result, police-reported offences against children and youth in Canada may be an underestimate since the police-reported data include only incidents of violence that have come to the attention of police and are covered by the Criminal Code. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)

  • Between 2006 and 2016 there were 303 child and youth victims of family-related homicide.  Half (48%) were aged 3 and younger. The most common motive over the past decade was frustration, anger or despair (63%). The motive was unknown in 9% of family-related homicides of children and youth. (Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2016 - pub. Jan 2018)
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