Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends
Measuring violence against women: Statistical Trends focuses on four key elements:
- Prevalence and severity of violence against women: Estimating the scope of the issue can be extremely challenging, due to many women’s reluctance to disclose their victimization. To attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent and nature of violence against women, both police-reported crime data and self-reported victimization data are used in the report. The analysis also draws on information from two administrative surveys, namely the Transition Home Survey and the Victims Services Survey. Police data indicate that rates of attempted murder and physical assault against women have decreased in recent years, and reported sexual assault rates have remained stable. Self-reported victimization rates have also remained stable. Regional patterns are similar to the general patterns in violent crime. “For both police-reported and victimization data, women are more often than men the victim of specific forms of violence. For instance, rates of police-reported intimate partner violence were higher among women than men. While rates of self-reported spousal violence were comparable between the sexes, women experienced the most severe types of spousal violence. Regardless of the survey instrument used, sexual crimes and criminal harassment was more prevalent among women than men.”
- Risk factors associated with violence against women: a) females aged 15 to 24 are at the highest risk of police-reported violence; b) women are most at risk from an intimate partner, significantly more so in a dating relationship than in a spousal relationship, and significantly higher when there has been a previous relationship with the accused intimate partner; c) aboriginal women are disproportionally represented as victims of violent crime, including homicide; d) rates of police-reported violence against women are higher in non-metropolitan areas (small cities, towns and rural areas); in self-reported statistics, young women and single women are most at risk of violence; e) women who self-identify as lesbian or bisexual were significantly more likely than heterosexual women to report violence by a current or previous spouse in the previous five years; f) women who participated in a high level of evening activities had a higher prevalence of both spousal and non-spousal victimization; g) non-spousal victimization was higher among women who used alcohol or drugs; h) women with an activity limitation (e.g. mental health condition or health problem that restricts a person’s activities) were more likely to experience spousal violence; g) spousal violence is more common among women who experienced emotional and financial abuse. Interesting to note were the findings that: a) educational attainment and income overall had no bearing on risk of either spousal or non-spousal violence – risk factors remain the same at all levels; b) retired women were less likely than those working a paid job to be victimized by someone other than a spouse, when other factors were taken into account; c) according to the 2009 GSS, immigrant women had a lower risk of spousal violence compared to Canadian-born women (however, it should be noted that the GSS is conducted in English and French, which may lead to under-reporting); d) community factors (e.g. levels of social ties and interactions, social disorder in the immediate surroundings) had little impact on women’s risk of spousal victimization, although social disorder was associated with higher risk of non-spousal victimization.
- Impact of violence against women: The report found that: “Violence against women can have a myriad of devastating consequences on women’s short and long-term health and well-being. Along with the immediate physical and emotional impacts of violence, women’s overall quality of life can be adversely affected over an entire lifetime, which can, in turn, impact their participation and engagement in various aspects of life and society. These consequences to the individual women, along with the violent act itself, can have ripple effects on society as a whole. For instance, employers may experience lost productivity and output from their employees, while women’s informal support networks, such as family and friends, may need to alter their daily activities to provide assistance to victims. This is in addition to the broader societal costs associated with delivering and maintaining health care, social and justice-related services to victims of violent crime, as well as the costs related to the criminal justice response to accused persons.”
- Responses to violence against women: While the criminal justice response to violence against women has shifted over the last 30 years, “many women who self-report victimization still do not seek support from the criminal justice system, as evidenced by the recent decrease in reporting spousal violence to police and the stability in rates of reporting for non-spousal violence. Women are more likely to turn to informal sources of support, such as family and friends, according to victimization data.” Women are more likely than men to turn to formal social services when faced with intimate partner violence and sexual assault.