Women at highest risk of violence

Victims of family violence in Canada are predominately women, even when the violence isn’t between spouses, according to Family Violence In Canada, a statistical study done by Statistics Canada, based on 2011 numbers.

Women made up 69 per cent of victims of the nearly 95,000 incidents of family violence that occurred that year. When it comes to spousal violence, the number of female victims jumps to 80 per cent, which is a rate that has been consistent for some time, according to Statistics Canada.

The study uses police reports from across Canada as well as self-reported victimization data.

Nearly half (49 per cent) of all family violence happens between people who are either married to each other or were in a spousal relationship in the past. Eighteen per cent of family violence victims were victimized by their parent, 13 per cent by an extended family member, 11 per cent by a sibling and nine per cent by a child.

Nationwide, there was an average of 279 victims per 100,000 people in 2011. Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the two highest rates, with 583 and 402 incidents per 100,000 people respectively. British Columbia had a rate of 271 and Alberta’s rate was above the average at just over 300 incidents per 100,000 people.

As for intimate partner violence, there were 97,500 victims in 2011. Of those incidents, more of them involved couples who were dating rather than couples who were married. Dating violence occurred at a rate 1.6 times higher than spousal violence.

As for the ages of victims, most where in aged between 25 to 34, and the second highest group of victims was people between 15 and 24 years old. As ages increased, typically the rates of violence decreased, according to the study.

The most frequent type offence between intimate partners, which is common assault, decreased by four per cent between 2009 and 2011.

Spousal homicide is relatively low in Canada, according to the study, but risk increased after separation from a legal marriage or in a common law union.

As for family violence against seniors, people aged 65 and over had the lowest rates of violence. There was an average of 67 female victims per 100,000 people over the age of 65 and the rate for senior is 53 per 100,000. Most often, it was grown children who were responsible for the violence. Violence caused by spouses was the second most common incident. Common assault, which caused little or no injury to the victim, was the most frequent form of assault making up 52 per cent of incidents. Uttering threats was the next most common at 20 per cent, followed by serious assaults at 12 per cent.

The study also looked at the 344 murder-suicides that occurred in Canada between 2001 and 2011. More than three quarters of those incidents involved at least one victim who was related to the accused. For 50 years, family-related murder-suicides have fluctuated between 0.6 and 1.2 incidents per one million population. However, according to the study, these types of crimes peaked in the 1980s and have generally been declining since then.

Spouses made up the largest group of victims involved in murder-suicide cases. Women aged 15 to 24 were at the highest risk of any age group. In all spousal murder-suicide cases, 97 per of the accused were male. Fifty-three per cent of those deaths were caused by guns and stabbing made up for 22 per cent.

There were 52 incidents of murder-suicide between 2001 and 2011 that involved children or youth. Parents or step parents accounted for the accused in 95 per cent of those, with other family members making up the remaining five per cent. Between those same years, there were 47 murder-suicides that involved senior victims. Unlike the trends in all other age groups of murder-suicides, rates are actually increasing in the senior age group.

This article, written by Edmonton freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by QMI Agency.