Section 3: Impact of violence against women

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By Hope Hutchins and Maire Sinha

Violence against women can have a myriad of devastating consequences on women's short and long-term health and wellbeing. 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 (Johnson et al. 2008). These consequences to the individual women, along with the violent act itself, can have ripple effects on society as a whole (World Health Organization 2011). For instance, employers may experience lost productivity and output from their employees, while women's informal support networks, such as families and friends, may need to alter their daily activities to provide assistance to victims (Reeves and O'Leary-Kelly 2007, AuCoin and Beauchamp 2007). 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 (Johnson and Dawson 2011).

Using data from the 2009 General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization, this section examines four major dimensions on the impact of violence against women: self-perceived safety, health and well-being; emotional impacts; physical consequences; and societal impacts. The impact of both self-reported spousal and non-spousal violence is discussed.Note 1 Also, the text box on the economic costs of spousal violence presents findings from a study conducted by the Department of Justice.

Self-perceived safety, health and well-beingNote 2

Women generally more likely than men to be fearful of crime

The effects of violent crime on women in general can be far-reaching. Indirect exposure to violent crime can remind others in the community of their potential risk of victimization, which in turn, increases overall levels of fear (Johnson and Dawson 2011). In 2009, the GSS asked Canadians about their feelings of personal safety from crime.

While women reported overall high levels of satisfaction with their personal safety from crime, these levels were significantly lower than those of men (91% versus 94%). Women were also found to be less likely than men to feel safe in a variety of situations, including walking alone at night in their neighbourhoods (85% versus 95%), being home alone in the evening (76% versus 90%), and using or waiting for public transportation alone after dark (42% versus 73%) (Chart 3.1).

Chart 3.1
Self-reported feelings of safety, by sex, 2009

Description for chart 3.1

Chart 3.1 Self-reported feelings of safety, by sex, 2009

† reference category     
* significantly different from reference category (p < 0.05)           
1. Excludes those that stated that they do not or never walk alone in their neighbourhood after dark.           
2. Excludes those living in cities or communities without public transportation and those who never use public transportation after dark.    
Note: Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.   
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.  

Female victims of non-spousal violence less likely than other women to feel safe

Feelings of safety from crime can be influenced by experiences of victimization. According to victimization data, the impact of victimization on women's levels of fear generally depended on the female victim's relationship to the perpetrator. That is, women victimized by their spouse in the last 12 months generally did not have increased levels of fear of crime compared to those women not victimized. In contrast, women victimized by someone other than their spouse were more fearful of crime. This finding is not unexpected, as fear of crime is often related to the threat of stranger violence and not the threat from family members (Scott 2003).

In particular, female victims of spousal violence were equally as likely as non-victimized women to feel satisfied with their personal safety (89% and 91%) (Table 3.1). They also did not have increased levels of fear walking alone after dark or using public transit, compared to women not violently victimized. However,  spousal violence victims had heightened levels of fear being home alone. Over one-third (35%) of female spousal victims felt worried when home alone in the evening or night, compared to 23% of women not victimized in the last 12 months.

Across all activities, women victimized by someone other than a spouse were significantly more fearful than women not victimized in the previous 12 months (Table 3.1). For example, almost three-quarters (72%) of female victims of non-spousal violence were worried while waiting for or using public transit after dark, higher than the proportion of women who did not report experiencing any type of violence  (56%).Note 3 Further, while 25% of women victimized outside of a spousal relationship felt unsafe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, the same was true for 14% of women not victimized in the preceding 12 months.

Female victims more likely than male victims to be fearful

In general, female victims of spousal and non-spousal violence were significantly less likely to report feeling safe compared to male victims (Table 3.1). Similar to women, experiences of spousal violence had little influence on men's perception of safety, as men victimized by a spouse were just as likely as those not victimized to feel safe from crime. Unlike female spousal violence victims, male spousal violence victims were not more likely than male non-victims to be fearful while home alone after dark. Mirroring patterns for women, men who were victimized by someone other than a spouse consistently felt less safe than other men.

Women victimized by a spouse more likely than other women to negatively evaluate their physical health

Violent victimization can influence women's overall perception of health, which can reflect women's general health status (Turcotte 2011). Based on victimization data, however, victims were not less likely than others to positively evaluate their health. In 2009, 54% of women victimized by a spouse within the last year reported very good or excellent health, a proportion not statistically different from the proportions of women victimized by someone other than a spouse (58%), as well as women not victimized (62%) (Table 3.2).

While ranking of physical health was not significantly lower among women victimized by a spouse over the previous 12 months, a difference in physical health ratings emerged when examining women victimized by a spouse over a five-year period.Note 4 In particular, women who reported spousal violence over this longer period were less likely than other women (including both victims of non-spousal violence and non-victims) to describe their physical health as very good or excellent (55% versus 62%) and more likely to report fair or poor health (17% versus 13%).

Experiences of spousal and non-spousal violence were not linked to poorer perceptions of physical health for men. That is, male victims did not differ in their evaluation of physical health from male non-victims.

Self-rated mental health lower among victims of violence

Women's perception of their mental health was consistently lower when they reported being violently victimized, regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator. Positive assessments of mental health, namely reporting that mental health was very good or excellent, were lowest among female victims of spousal violence (52%) (Table 3.2). This was followed by female victims of non-spousal violence (65%) and females not victimized in the last 12 months (73%). Unlike female victims, men's assessment of their own mental health did not vary by whether or not they had been violently victimized.

Elevated levels of everyday stress were much more common among victims of violence. Again, women victimized by their spouse were the most likely to report that most of their days were "quite a bit or extremely stressful" (53%) (Table 3.2). This proportion was significantly higher than for female victims of non-spousal violence (41%) and more than double the proportion of women not victimized in the last 12 months (23%). Men were generally less likely than women to experience high levels of daily stress, but also were more likely to describe high levels of stress if they had been a victim of violent victimization.

Life satisfaction lower among victims

Life satisfaction is a personal, subjective evaluation of overall well-being. According to the 2009 GSS, women's satisfaction was related to their experiences of victimization. Similar to ratings of mental health and stress, women reporting the lowest levels of life satisfaction were those who had been victimized in the previous year. In 2009, 76% of female victims of spousal violence and 85% of female victims of non-spousal violence indicated that they were satisfied with their lives, compared to 92% for women not reporting any type of violence (Table 3.2). For both spousal and non-spousal violence, the proportions of female and male victims reporting being satisfied with their lives were similar.

Emotional impacts of violent victimization

Female victims of spousal violence more likely than male victims to be fearful and depressed

The experiences of being a victim of violent victimization can elicit a range of emotional impacts. Overall, female victims were much more likely than men to report being emotionally affected as a result of the victimization. In 2009, about nine in ten female victims of spousal violence (89%) indicated that the violence had some emotional impact on them, while the same was true for about seven in ten male victims of spousal violence (66%).

The most common impact of spousal violence on women was being upset, confused or frustrated (38%), closely followed by being angry (35%) (Chart 3.2). While these were also the most frequently reported types of negative consequences for male victims, female victims were much more likely to report these and other responses to violence. For instance, women were seven times as likely as men to be fearful (27% versus 4%E), three times as likely to be depressed or anxious (23% versus 7%E), and twice as likely to be angry (35% versus 18%). Inversely, men more often reported that the victimization had not had much of an effect on them (30% versus 9%E of women).

Chart 3.2
Emotional consequences of spousal violence, by sex of victim, Canada, 2009

Description for chart 3.2

Chart 3.2 Emotional consequences of spousal violence, by  sex of victim, Canada, 2009

E use with caution
† reference category     
* significantly different from reference category (p < 0.05)
Note: Refers to spousal violence in the previous five years. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009. 

The consequences of non-spousal violence parallel those for spousal violence. One-third of women (34%) were left feeling angry, 28% were upset, confused or frustrated, and 27% expressed fear. Again, gender differences emerged in the type of emotional responses, though notably, women and men were about equally as likely to feel angry about the non-spousal violent incident (34% and 31%).

Emotional impacts much higher for severe forms of violence

A larger proportion of women who experienced the most serious forms of spousal violence, such as being beaten, stated that they had an emotional response (95%) compared to those who experienced less serious forms, such as being pushed, slapped, or kicked (85%). Overall, emotional consequences were more likely when women sustained physical injury. According to victimization data, 95% of female spousal violence victims who sustained injury reported an emotional consequence to the victimization, compared to 84% of non-injured female spousal victims.

As with spousal violence, non-spousal violent incidents with physical injury were more likely than those without injury to elicit an emotional response. In particular, a larger proportion of injured female victims were emotionally affected relative to non-injured female victims (96% versus 87% of incidents).

Emotional impacts most common among female robbery victims

Not all forms of non-spousal violence elicit emotional responses to violence. Among women, robbery victims were most emotionally affected by their victimization, as nearly all robbery incidents left female victims with some type of emotional impact. In comparison, 87% of physical assault incidents and 87% of sexual assault incidents elicited an emotional response. There was no difference in emotional impacts by type of victimization among male victims of non-spousal violence.

Use of anti-depressant medication higher among victims

Women have different strategies for coping with violent experiences. While most turn to informal sources of support, such as family or friends (see Section 4), research has also found that self-medicating is one method used by some women to deal with their victimization (Johnson and Dawson 2011). This behaviour may also be an indicator of the degree of the emotional impact of violence (Johnson et al. 2008).

According to the 2009 GSS, medication use for depression, anxiety and sleep problems was significantly higher among female victims of violence in the previous 12 months. More than one-quarter of spousal violence victims (27%) and non-spousal violence victims (26%) used medication to cope with depression, to calm them down or to help them sleep. These proportions were significantly higher than the proportion of women who were not violently victimized (18%). It was also significantly higher than the share of male victims who used medication (14%).

Unlike women, men's use of medication did not vary significantly by whether or not they were violently victimized (14% versus 12%). While the GSS also asked victims of violence about their use of alcohol and drugs to cope with the violent incidents, sample counts were too low to produce statistically reliable results.

Physical consequences of violence against women

Four in ten female victims of spousal violence were physically injured

Four in ten women (42%) victimized by their spouse in the previous five years reported being physically injured (Chart 3.3). This was more than double the proportion of male victims (18%). The most common types of injury reported by women who were physically injured were bruises (95%), followed by cuts, scratches or burns (30%). Less frequently reported were fractures or broken bones (9%E) and internal injuries or miscarriage (9%E combined).

Chart 3.3
Impact of spousal violence for victims, by sex of victim, Canada, 2009

Description for chart 3.3

Chart 3.3 Impact of spousal violence for victims, by sex  of victim, Canada, 2009

E use with caution
F too unreliable to be published  
† reference category     
* significantly different from reference category (p < 0.05)           
1. Includes only those who were physically injured.          
Note: Refers to spousal violence in the previous five years. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.           
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.  

Sometimes, injuries to spousal violence victims were so severe that medical attention was required. According to the 2009 GSS, 18%E of injured women required medical attention and 13%E were treated in a hospital or health care centre (Chart 3.3). In some instances, injuries to women resulted in disruptions to their daily lives, as 40% of injured women reported taking time off from everyday activities. A disruption in daily activities was not limited to injured victims. About one in five non-injured women (17%) also had to take time off from their daily activities as a result of the spousal violence.

Overall, female victims of spousal violence were three times more likely than their male counterparts to experience disruptions to their daily lives as a result of the incident (27% versus 9%E) (Chart 3.3). They were also much more likely than male victims to state that they feared for their life (33% versus 5%E).

Among incidents outside of a spousal relationship, gender differences tended to be less pronounced. In 2009, 17% of non-spousal violent incidents resulted in the female victim being physically injured, a proportion not significantly different from that of males (18%). Among those incidents against women resulting in physical injury, 21%E required medical attention, similar to the percentage of incidents against male victims (16%E). However, similar to spousal violence, female victims of non-spousal violence were much more likely than male victims to state that they found it difficult or impossible to carry out their everyday activities (40% versus 17%).

Start of text box 3.1

Text box 3.1
Impact of violent victimization on Aboriginal women

While Aboriginal women have a higher prevalence of self-reported violent victimization (see Section 1), the emotional consequences were, in some ways, similar to non-Aboriginal women. Among spousal violence victims, a similar proportion of Aboriginal women and non-Aboriginal women reported having an emotional response to their victimization (90% and 89%). This is despite the fact that the physical consequences of spousal violence were heightened for Aboriginal women.

Specifically, Aboriginal women victimized by a spouse in the previous five years were significantly more likely than their non-Aboriginal female counterparts to report being physically injured (59% versus 41%). They were also more likely to report fearing for their lives (52%E versus 31%), though they were as likely as non-Aboriginal female victims to take time off from everyday activities (33%E and 27%).

For non-spousal violence, Aboriginal women were more likely than non-Aboriginal women to have an emotional response. In particular, 96% of non-spousal violent incidents against Aboriginal women resulted in victims reporting an emotional impact, compared to 88% of incidents involving non-Aboriginal women. The physical impact of non-spousal victimization was similar between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women.

End of text box 3.1

 

Start of text box 3.2

Text box 3.2
Physical impact of police-reported violence against women, 2011

In addition to using victimization data, the physical impact of violence against women can be measured using police-reported data, namely the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey. These data are based on crimes that have been reported to and substantiated by police. According to police-reported data for 2011, four in ten (41%) female victims had been physically injured as a result of police-reported violence, similar to the share of male victims who were injured (46%). For some violent crimes, women were more likely than men to sustain injury, such as sexual violence (25% versus 15%) and deprivation of freedom offences, such as forcible confinement and abduction (55% versus 45%). Men, on the other hand, were more likely than women to be injured for the offences of attempted murder (85% versus 80%) and robbery (37% versus 26%). In general, injuries sustained by women and men were minor in nature.

Females victimized by intimate partners more often injured

The likelihood of injury varied based on the woman's relationship to the accused. As was also the case for male victims, female victims of police-reported violence were more likely to sustain physical injury when the perpetrator was either a spouse (49%) or dating partner (53%), than when the accused was a non-spousal family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger (33%). This was true regardless of the type of offence (Text box 3.2 chart).

Text box 3.2 chart
Female victims of police-reported violent crime, by incidence of injury, relationship of accused to victim and type of offence, 2011

Description for Text box 3.2 chart

Text box 3.2 chart Female victims of police-reported violent  crime, by incidence of injury, relationship of accused to victim and type of  offence, 2011

Note: Other violent offences includes abduction, kidnapping, hostage-taking, arson and other violent violations. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.  
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Injuries most often caused by physical force

Physical force, rather than weapons, was more often used to cause or threaten injury to female victims of police-reported violent crime. In 2011, 87% of female victims injured were harmed by physical force, such as being punched or kicked. Knives or other cutting instruments caused the injury in 3% of female victims, blunt instruments in 2% of victims, and other weapons in 9%.

End of text box 3.2

Societal impacts of violence against women

Violence against women has a greater impact on formal social services than violent victimization of men

Family and friends of the victim, who are a source of informal support, may be adversely affected, as their daily activities may be altered or disrupted to provide some form of assistance to the victim (AuCoin and Beauchamp 2007). In 2009, 76% of female victims of spousal violence confided in family, friends, or neighbours. Similarly, in 87% of incidents of non-spousal violence against women, victims disclosed their victimization to such individuals.

Additional societal costs arise from helping victims and their families in terms of the delivery and maintenance of health care services, counselling, shelter services and other social supports. Based on victimization data, the involvement of health and social service agencies was about two to three times higher in incidents of violence against women (both spousal and non-spousal), compared to violent incidents directed at men (Chart 3.4) (Section 4 on Responses to violence against women explores this issue in greater detail). This may partly reflect differences in the severity of violence against women and men.

Chart 3.4
Societal impacts of self-reported violent victimization, by sex of victim and type of violent victimization, Canada, 2009

Description for Chart 3.4

Chart 3.4 Societal impacts of self-reported violent  victimization, by sex of victim and type of violent victimization, Canada, 2009

… not applicable
† reference category
* significantly different from reference category (p < 0.05).
1. Includes only spousal violence victims with one or more child(ren). Excludes a small number of cases where the victim reported being a victim of spousal violence by both a current and previous spouse.
Note: Spousal violence refers to spousal violence in the previous five years. Non-spousal violence refers to violence in the previous 12 months. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.

The criminal justice system is also affected by the volume of violent criminal incidents coming to the attention of police. While the reporting of spousal violence against women has declined from 36% in 2004 to 30% in 2009, spousal violence against women was still more likely than spousal violence against men to be reported to police (30% versus 13%). Incidents of non-spousal violence against women were about equally as likely to come to the attention of police as those against men (28% and 30%).

Children more often witnesses to spousal violence against their mother

Children, in particular, can be direct witnesses to spousal violence. For children, especially the very young, this exposure to violence can have long-term emotional, cognitive, social and behavioural impacts, thereby, incurring costs to the social and criminal justice systems for years to come (Holt et al. 2008, Kitzmann et al. 2003).

In addition, witnessing violence against a parent, which is considered a form of maltreatment by provincial and territorial child welfare legislation, can generate the immediate involvement of provincial and territorial child welfare/children's aid or child protection systems. These authorities have the responsibility of investigating possible cases of child exposure to spousal violence, providing necessary services and possibly removing children from the violent householdNote 5 (Trocmé et al. 2010).

The 2009 GSS asked spousal violence victims if their children heard or saw the violent incidents against them.Note 6 As described in Section 1, children were more often present in spousal violence incidents against their mothers than fathers (59% versus 43%) (Chart 3.4) and this violence witnessed by children tended to be more severe when perpetrated against mothers.

Reflecting the heightened severity of spousal violence against women, incidents of spousal violence against mothers were linked to higher levels of spousal victim's contact with formal social services (56% versus 33%E). Similarly, police involvement was more common when the spousal victim was the child's mother, as opposed to the child's father (48% versus 25%E).

Start of text box 3.3

Text box 3.3
Impact of self-reported violence in the territories, 2009

Women's non-spousal victimization experiences linked to higher levels of fear

Victimization data for the territoriesNote 7 were collected using a different methodology. As a result, analysis of the impact of self-reported violence in the territories is examined separately from the provinces.

Similar to provincial findings, the influence of victimization on fear levels depended on the female victim's relationship to the perpetrator. More specifically, there was no difference in levels of satisfaction with personal safety between women victimized by their spouse and those not violently victimized in the previous 12 months. This finding contrasts with women victimized by someone other than a spouse, where female victims of non-spousal violence were less likely to report feeling safe from crime, compared to both female spousal violence victims and non-victims (71% versus 95% and 92%).

While women in the territories are generally more fearful of crime than men, female spousal violence victims in the territories were more likely than their male counterparts to be satisfied with their personal safety (95% versus 65%E). The opposite was true for non-spousal victims, where female victims were less likely than male victims to have confidence in their personal safety (71% versus 91%).

Mental well-being lower among female victims than female non-victims

In general, perceptions of physical and mental health were lower among victims of violent crime in the territories. While counts were too small to produce statistically reliable estimates of spousal violence victims' health by gender, spousal victims were overall less likely to describe their physical or mental health in positive terms compared to individuals not violently victimized.

Violent victimization outside of spousal relationships also influenced individuals' rating of their physical health, as well as mental health. In particular, women violently victimized by someone other than a spouse were about half as likely (31%E) as women not violently victimized (61%) to positively rate their physical health. Further, 44%E of women victimized by someone other than their spouse described their mental health as very good or excellent, compared to 66% of women not victimized in the previous 12 months. Lower perceptions of mental health, but not physical health, were also evident among male victims of non-spousal violence.

Victimized women in the territories were also less likely than non-victimized women to report being satisfied with their lives. This was true regardless of whether women were victimized by a spouse or another type of perpetrator. Men who were victimized were also less likely than non-victims to be satisfied with their lives.

Female victims of spousal violence more likely than male victims to be emotionally affected

As in the provinces, female spousal violence victims living in the territories were more likely than their male counterparts to be emotionally affected by their violent victimization (95% versus 65%E). The most common emotional consequences expressed by female spousal victims in the territories were being upset, confused, or frustrated (33%E), being angry (32%E), and feeling hurt or disappointed (25%E).

The severity of the spousal violence was not linked to emotional distress among female victims in the territories. Women who experienced the most serious forms of spousal violence were as likely as those who experienced less severe acts of spousal violence to be emotionally affected. In the same vein, there was no difference in emotional impacts between female spousal victims who sustained physical injury and those that did not. The counts for non-spousal violence were too small to produce reliable estimates of emotional consequences by injury.

Half of female victims of spousal violence in the territories were physically injured

In the territories, a fear for life was a predominant reality for female victims of spousal violence, as approximately half (51%E) believed that their lives were in danger. In addition, about half (49%E) of female spousal victims sustained physical injuries, a proportion similar to that of male victims. Medical attention was required for about 41%E of injured women and hospitalization for 38%E.

Taking time away from daily activities was required for some female spousal victims in the territories. In 2009, over one-third (37%E) of female spousal violence victims reported a disruption in their day-to-day activities.

Differing from spousal violence, most incidents of non-spousal violence against women did not result in physical injuries. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of non-spousal violence incidents against women did not result in injuries, similar to the proportion involving male victims (63%).

Use of informal support networks higher for female spousal victims than male victims

As with the provinces, the societal level costs of violent victimization in the territories includes burdens placed on individual's informal support networks, along with the supply and maintenance of social and criminal justice services. According to victimization data, 84% of female spousal victims in the territories talked to family,  friends or neighbours about the incident, a proportion much greater than for their male counterparts (50%E). This same gendered pattern was not evident for non-spousal violence. In 70% of incidents of non-spousal violence against women, victims confided in family, friends or neighbours, compared to 81% of incidents involving male victims.

In the territories, there was no significant difference between female and male spousal violence victims in terms of whether the victimization was reported to police (58% versus 44%E). Although analysis was not releasable for non-spousal violence by gender due to small counts, 32%E of incidents, whether perpetrated against women or men, came to the attention of police in 2009.

End of text box 3.3

 

Start of text box 3.4

Text box 3.4
Economic costs of violence against women

The financial and economic costs of violence against women can be felt by all sectors of Canadian society. Besides the costs associated with meeting the needs of the victim and offender through social and criminal justice services, financial burdens can be felt by employees and employers with regard to decreased productivity and lost revenue (Day et al. 2005, Government of Manitoba n.d.). This is on top of the direct cost to the victim and their families, who are often faced with loss of earnings and out-of-pocket expenses related to their health and well-being (Day et al. 2005).

While estimating the overall costs of violence against women is an important undertaking, it is fraught with challenges. Determining the costs to be included, the availability of data, differences in measures between available data sources, and the overarching methodological assumptions are just a few of the obstacles facing researchers attempting to estimate the cost of violence against women (Zhang et al. 2013). Despite these challenges, a number of studies have examined the economic impact of violence on victims and Canadian society (Wells et al. 2012, Varcoe et al. 2011). These studies cannot be directly compared because of differing methodologies, and no one study is completely comprehensive.

Most recently, the Department of Justice (Zhang et al. 2013) conducted a study estimating the economic impact of spousal violence occurring in Canada. Overall, the cost of spousal violence to women and men was estimated at $7.4 billion in 2009. About three-quarters of these costs (74%) were attributed to intangible costs to the victims (e.g., pain and suffering) and their family members (e.g., loss of affection). The study notes that this cost of spousal violence is likely an underestimation given that data were not available in some areas.

The costs were generally higher for spousal violence against women than against men for all categories, with the one exception of acute hospitalization. In total, the cost of spousal violence against women was estimated at $4.8 billion.

The study classified the economic impact of spousal violence into three groups: direct (primary) victims, third parties (e.g., children and employers) and the justice system (both criminal and civil justice). Of these, the study identified the victim costs as the highest at $6.0 billion. These costs were associated with mental health counselling expenses, productivity losses at work or school, repairing or replacing damaged property, legal fees for divorce and separation, and intangible costs such as pain and suffering.

The cost borne by third-parties was identified as the next highest at $889.9 million. Included were costs to the victims' children in terms of missing school days, lost future income, and loss of affection and enjoyment. This category also included reduced output to employers resulting from tardy, distracted, and less productive employees, as well as costs related to operating social services for victims, such as shelters and crisis lines.

At a cost of $545.2 million, the justice system had the remaining identified costs. Included were costs associated with police, courts, prosecution, legal aid, and corrections, as well as the civil justice costs, including civil protection orders, divorce and separation, and child protection systems.

End of text box 3.4

Summary

This section described some of the direct and indirect impacts of violence against women. Not only do victims suffer emotional and physical harm, but their feelings of safety and perceptions of well-being are often affected by their victimization experiences. While women victimized by a spouse did not consistently have higher levels of fear than other women, women victimized by a stranger, friend, acquaintance or non-spousal family member were less likely than non-victimized women to feel personally safe from crime. Violently victimized women, both those victimized by a spouse or another perpetrator, were less likely to positively rate their mental health, more likely to experience elevated levels of stress, and more likely to use medication for depression, anxiety or sleep problems.

Violence against women also has a range of negative impacts that extend beyond the victim. Family and friends can be indirectly or directly affected by the violence, particularly children who are more often witnesses to spousal violence against their mothers than fathers. In addition, larger societal costs of violence against women can be borne from providing and maintaining social supports and criminal justice services. In general, the use of these services was higher in violence incidents involving female than male victims. It has been suggested that the economic costs associated with providing these services, as well as financial implications of violence to victims and their families are substantial.

Detailed data tables

Table 3.1 Canadians' self-reported feelings of safety from crime, by sex and self-reported victimization experiences, 2009

Table 3.2 Canadians' self-perceived health and well-being, by sex and self-reported victimization experiences, 2009

References

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Black, T., N. Trocmé, B. Fallon and B. MacLaurin. 2008. "The Canadian child welfare system response to exposure to domestic violence investigations." Child Abuse & Neglect. p. 393-404.

Day, T., K. McKenna and A. Bowlus. 2005. The Economic Costs of Violence Against Women: An Evaluation of the Literature. Expert brief compiled in preparation for the Secretary-General's in-depth study on all forms of violence against women. United Nations. (accessed September 28, 2012).

Government of Manitoba, Family Services and Labour. n.d. Why Employers should care about family violence. (accessed September 28, 2012).

Holt, S., Buckley, H. and S. Whelan. 2008. "The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of literature." Child Abuse & Neglect. Vol. 32, no. 8. p. 797-810.

Johnson, H. and M. Dawson. 2011. Violence Against Women in Canada: Research and Policy Perspectives. Don Mills, ON. Oxford University Press.

Johnson, H., N. Ollus and S. Nevala. 2008. Violence Against Women: An International Perspective. New York. Springer.

Kitzmann, K., N. Gaylord, A. Holt, and E. Kenny.  2003. "Child witnesses to domestic violence: A meta-analytic review." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol. 71, no. 2. p. 339-352.

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Notes

E use with caution

  1. For the section on self-perceived safety, health and wellbeing, spousal violence includes self-reported victimization by a current or previous spouse in the previous 12 months. Unless otherwise specified, for all other sections, spousal violence refers to spousal victimization in the preceding five years. Non-spousal violence includes victimization in the previous 12 months.
  2. Since victimization and measures of safety, health, and life satisfaction were captured at the same time, it is not possible to ascertain whether the individual's well-being preceded or followed the violent victimization.
  3. Excludes those living in cities or communities without public transportation and those who never use public transportation after dark.
  4. A similar reference period is not possible for non-spousal violence, as Canadians are strictly asked about their non-spousal victimization experiences in the preceding 12 months.
  5. Previous studies have shown that in most Canadian provinces and territories, the removal of children who are exposed to family violence often depends on whether there were other forms of maltreatment beyond witnessing violence (Black et al. 2008).
  6. Includes spousal violence victims with one or more children.
  7. Unlike the analysis of the GSS for the provinces, statistical significant differences for the territories uses a higher p value of p < 0.1, in consideration of small sample counts.
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