CTV.ca News Staff
A new Statistics Canada study on family violence suggest an alarming, and perhaps surprising, trend is on the rise. More women than ever before are attacking their domestic partners.
According to the 2003 edition of Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, Statistics Canada says more women killed, hurt or threatened their partners in 2001 than in years before.
From 1995 to 2001, the rate of incidents of spousal violence reported by police increased — for both men and women. In 2001, there were 344 incidents for every 100,000 women aged 15 and older, an increase from 302 in 1995.
For men, there were 62 incidents for every 100,000 — up 40 per cent from the 37 cases in the report’s first edition six years ago.
In the report, spousal violence is defined as cases of murder, attempted murder, sexual and physical assault, threats, criminal harassment and other violent offences in which the accused attacker is a spouse, ex-spouse or common-law partner of the victim.
For some abused men — shut out of federal funding that has, so far, only been offered to groups helping abused women and children — the report’s findings suggest a need for services geared to male abuse victims and their children.
Earl Silverman has created the Men’s Line Support group in Calgary — only the second shelter for abused men in Canada. There are currently 508 women’s shelters across Canada.
Himself an abused spouse, Silverman knew what it was like to be assaulted by a woman and not be taken seriously about it.
“I got hurt, she hit me and no one believed me,” Silverman said, explaining why he was compelled to spend his life savings on the project.
While Statistics Canada says 6 out of 10,000 men in Canada report incidents when their partner has tried to kill or injure them, family violence specialist Dr. Reena Sommer believes there is a lot more abuse that goes unreported.
Because men are usually bigger more powerful, it’s often embarrassing for most men to concede weakness and report abuse, Sommer told CTV. “I think that there is a lot of shame.”
But abuse happens to men for the same reasons it happens to women.
“It’s a relationship dynamic,” Sommer said, explaining the cycle of abuse stemming from an inability to cope with an emotional trauma from the past.
“I recall I did an interview once and it was a call-in show. The individual says ‘ I’m six-foot-two, I’m a police officer and my wife beats me.’ ”
According to Silverman, such scenarios translate into very few cases being reported. And as a result, federal funding for the problem is virtually non-existent.
“We have nothing in Canada, absolutely nothing,” Silverman said, adding that he’s not interested in siphoning money away from women’s groups.
He just wants society to be more accepting and understand that men suffer too.
The Family violence in Canada report was funded by the Federal Family Violence Initiative and was based on several sources, including the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Homicide Survey, Transition Home Survey, the 1999 General Social Survey on Victimization and the Hospital Morbidity Survey.
Other key findings include:
- Two-thirds of family violence cases were perpetrated by a spouse or an ex-spouse, and 85 per cent of the victims were women.
- Physical force was used in 72 per cent of incidents involving women and 64 per cent of incidents involving men. Weapons were used in 21 per cent of incidents against men, but in only 9 per cent of cases against women.
- Threats were the most serious form of violence in 14% of cases reported to police in 2001 — used more often against female victims than against males.
- Police laid charges in 80 per cent of all spousal violence cases. In cases involving female victims, charged were laid 81 per cent of the time, and in 69 per cent of cases involving men.
- From 1992 to 2002, the number of shelters in Canada increased from 376 to 524.
- In the year ending March 31, 2002, a total of 55,901 women and 45,347 children were admitted to the 482 shelters that responded to the Transition Home Survey. The majority of children were under the age of 10.
- In 2001, seniors aged 65 and over were the age group least likely to be victims of violent crime — with a police-reported rate of violent crimes against seniors of 157 for every 100,000 people, 14 times lower than the rate for the most-victimized group: young people aged 18 to 24.