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Shelters for abused women, 2012

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Released: 2014-02-27

On April 18, 2012, the Transition Home Survey (THS) identified 601 shelters for abused women operating across Canada. On that survey snapshot date, there were 4,566 women and 3,570 dependent children residing in these facilities. Almost three-quarters of these women (74%) were at the shelters primarily because of abuse, representing a rate of 23 women per 100,000 women aged 15 and older in Canada.

Most women and children residing in shelters on April 18, 2012, were staying at transition homes (34%), second stage housing (25%), emergency shelters (22%) and women's emergency shelters (13%). The remaining 5% were staying at other types of facilities, such as safe home networks and interim housing.

About one-third (33%) of all women residing in a shelter in Canada on the snapshot date had stayed at that shelter before. The highest rate of re-admissions was reported by emergency shelter facilities, where almost half (49%) of snapshot date residents had stayed at the shelter previously.

Women residing in shelters on April 18, 2012, reported various reasons for seeking admission. On average, each woman reported five distinct reasons for seeking shelter, with the majority of women citing emotional abuse (68%) and physical abuse (52%).

Of the women reporting abuse as their primary reason for seeking shelter on the snapshot date, the majority (68%) identified a current intimate partner as their abuser. A further 17% reported that their abuser was a former intimate partner.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Relationship to abuser among women residing in shelters, Canada, April 18, 2012 - Description and data table
Relationship to abuser among women residing in shelters, Canada, April 18, 2012

Chart 1: Relationship to abuser among women residing in shelters, Canada, April 18, 2012 - Description and data table

Of the women who sought shelter primarily because of abuse on April 18, 2012, over half (53%) were admitted with their children. More than one-quarter (27%) of women in shelters did not have children or parenting responsibilities, while 19% came to the shelter facility without their children.

Shelters responding to the THS reported that the abusive situations that cause women to seek shelter are often not reported to police. In reference to the most recent abusive situation, shelters reported that a minority of incidents (32%) had been brought to the attention of police.

On April 18, 2012, 379 women and 215 accompanying children were turned away from shelters in Canada. The shelter being full was cited as the most common reason for turning away women and children, accounting for more than half (56%) of all reasons for turn-aways.

  Note to readers

This report is based on data from the latest Transition Home Survey (THS), a national biennial survey of residential facilities providing shelter to abused women and their children. The objective of the THS is to collect data that will provide a profile of residential services for abused women and their children during the previous 12 months, as well as provide information on the clientele being served.

The Juristat bulletin "Shelters for abused women in Canada, 2012" (Catalogue number85-002-X) is now available. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and Justice, and Juristat.

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