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Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2013

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Released: 2015-01-15

There were just under 88,000 victims of family violence in Canada in 2013, according to police-reported data. This represented more than one-quarter of all violent crimes reported to police.

Just under half (48%) of all victims of family violence were victimized by a current or former spouse. For another 17% of family violence victims, the accused was a parent, while for 14% the accused was an extended family member such as an in-law, uncle or grandparent. A further 11% of family violence victims were victimized by a sibling and for 10% the accused was the victim's own child.

As in previous years, a majority of police-reported incidents of family violence involved physical assault, which included actions and behaviours such as pushing, slapping, punching and face-to-face threats.

Police-reported data also reveal that in 2013 almost 7 in 10 family violence victims were female. In comparison, females represented 46% of victims of violent crimes that were not family-related. The over-representation of female victims was most prominent in the spousal violence category, where nearly 8 in 10 victims were female.

Rates of police-reported family violence varied by age. Among females, family violence victimization rates were generally highest for those in their thirties. However, for male victims, rates of family violence were highest for 15- to 19-year-olds. Seniors (aged 65 and over) recorded the lowest rates of police-reported family violence of any age group, regardless of gender.

Territories report highest rate of police-reported family violence

As with the overall national pattern for police-reported violent crime, rates of family violence were higher in the territories than in the provinces. Among the provinces, police-reported family violence rates were highest in Saskatchewan (489.4 per 100,000 population) and Manitoba (375.8) and lowest in Ontario (166.9) and Prince Edward Island (196.3).

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) the Quebec part of the Ottawa–Gatineau CMA recorded the highest rate of police-reported family violence in 2013 (327.9 per 100,000 population), followed by Saguenay (314.3), Québec (291.4), Montréal (281.5) and Trois-Rivières (276.0). The lowest rates of family violence were reported by the Ontario CMAs of Ottawa (99.0), Guelph (129.8), St. Catharines–Niagara (132.0) and London (134.0). These findings are similar to previous years.

Rates of family-related physical assaults declined 14% from 2009 and 2013. Homicides committed by family members, though rare, have also declined significantly over the past three decades, with family related homicide rates falling 59% from 1983 to 2013.

Intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence refers to violence against current or former spouses or dating partners (whether or not the individuals live together). Of the more than 90,300 victims of police-reported violence by an intimate partner, 53% had been victimized by a dating partner and 47% by a spouse.

For both males and females, intimate partner violence was most likely to occur when individuals were in their twenties and thirties. However, women in their early twenties (20 to 24 years old) experienced the greatest risk of violent victimization by an intimate partner (1,127.7 per 100,000 population).

Overall, the rate of police-reported intimate partner victimization was higher for females than for males, regardless of age, with women accounting for nearly 80% of all intimate partner victims reported to police.

Charges were laid or recommended in the majority of intimate partner violence incidents brought to the attention of police.

  Note to readers

Since 1998, Statistics Canada has released annual data on family violence in Canada. The special focus of this year's report is intimate partner violence in Canada as part of the larger federal Family Violence Initiative.

Results are based on police-reported data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and the Homicide Survey. These data include all Criminal Code incidents reported to and substantiated by police, but do not include incidents that do not reach the attention of police.

Self-reported victimization surveys, namely the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, complement police-reported data by estimating the amount of crime in Canada that goes unreported to police. Conducted every five years, the GSS on Victimization asks Canadians 15 years and older about their experiences of victimization, whether or not this victimization was reported to police. In 2009, the latest year of available statistics, it was estimated that about two-thirds of all criminal victimizations were not reported to police.

The article "Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile," 2013, in Juristat (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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