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Shelters for abused women, 2014

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Released: 2015-07-06

On April 16, 2014, the Transition Home Survey (THS) identified 627 shelters for abused women operating across Canada.

On that snapshot date, there were 7,969 women and children residing in these facilities. Almost three-quarters of these women (73%) were there primarily because of abuse, representing a rate of 22 per 100,000 women aged 15 and older in Canada.

Women and children residing in shelter facilities on the snapshot date were staying at transition homes (37%), second-stage housing (23%), emergency shelters (21%) and women's emergency centres (13%). The remaining 6% were staying at other types of facilities, such as family resource centres.

One-quarter (25%) of all women residing in a shelter in Canada on the snapshot date had stayed at that same shelter before. The highest rate of re-admissions was reported by women's emergency centres, where over 4 in 10 of snapshot date residents had previously stayed at the same shelter.

Women residing in shelters on April 16, 2014, reported various reasons for seeking admission. Emotional abuse, reported by 66% of women residents, and physical abuse, experienced by half of residents, were the most common reasons women sought shelter. This finding held true for most provinces and territories.

Of the women reporting abuse as their primary reason for seeking shelter on the snapshot date, 69% identified a current intimate partner as their abuser, while 17% reported their abuser was a former intimate partner.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Relationship of abuser to women residing in shelters primarily because of abuse, Canada, April 16, 2014
Relationship of abuser to women residing in shelters primarily because of abuse, Canada, April 16, 2014

Of the women who sought shelter primarily because of abuse on April 16, 2014, just over half (51%) were admitted with their children, while 17% came to the shelter facility without their children. The remaining 31% of women in shelters did not have children or parenting responsibilities.

Shelters responding to the THS indicated that the abusive situations that caused women to seek shelter had often not been reported to police. On that snapshot day, for almost half of women in shelters for reasons of abuse, the most recent abusive situation had not been brought to the attention of police.

On the snapshot date, 338 women and 201 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. Other reasons included alcohol and drug issues (8%) and mental health issues (6%).

  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, 2014" (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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