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Experiences as victims/survivors

Outcomes discussed

  • Canadians are safe and individuals and families feel safe.
  • Canadians understand the role of and express confidence in the CJS.
  • The CJS respects victims’ and survivors’ rights and addresses their needs.
  • The CJS reduces the number of Indigenous people in the system.
  • The CJS reduces the number of marginalized and vulnerable people in the system.

Gender-based violence is violence directed at a person because of their gender—their status in society as a woman/girl, man/boy or gender-diverse person—gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. The term is often used to describe violence that is rooted in gender inequalities between women and men including the unequal distribution of power both at home and in public. Decades of research shows that women in Canada are at higher risk than men of experiencing certain types of violent victimization. Women are substantially overrepresented among victims/survivors of sexual assault, police-reported intimate partner violence, forcible confinement, criminal harassment, and threatening and harassing phone calls (Burczycka 2019; Conroy 2018; Department of Justice Canada 2019b). In contrast, men make up the majority of perpetrators of these crimes (Savage 2019). This distinction between victims/survivors and perpetrators of certain types of crimes is a hallmark of gender-based violence (Burczycka 2019; Conroy 2018; Department of Justice Canada 2019b).

Police-reported and self-reported crime

Most national data on victims/survivors of crime come from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) survey, the General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), and the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS). The UCR survey consists of police-reported data. This means that the UCR only contains information on incidents that have come to the attention of the police and that have been substantiated through investigation. However, for a multitude of reasons, some crimes never come to the attention of the police. To help address this data gap, the GSS and the SSPPS collect data directly from individuals on the experiences of some forms of violent victimization, namely physical assault, sexual assault, and robbery, as well as information on whether or not these incidents were reported to police.26 It is possible that victimization is under-reported in all surveys as people may choose not to disclose these experiences for a variety of reasons.

Following a steady decline between 2009 and 2013, police-reported violent crime rates have trended upwards since 2014, though not surpassing pre-2009 levels. The increase has been greater for crimes against women than for crimes against men (see Chart 3). Of all police-reported incidents of violent crime27 in 2019, women represented slightly over half (52%) of victims/survivors.28 Specifically, police-reported violent crime data showed a higher rate of violent victimization among women (1,158 per 100,000 population) than among men (1,081 per 100,000 population). This trend has been relatively persistent over the last 10 years (Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Statistics Canada, special request).29

Chart 3. Victims/survivors of police-reported violent crime aged 18 years and older, by gender of victim, 2009 to 2019 (rate per 100,000 population).

Text version
Rate per 100,000 population
Women Men
2009 1236 1220
2010 1239 1186
2011 1153 1109
2012 1034 1080
2013 989 988
2014 989 950
2015 1013 971
2016 1016 966
2017 1048 977
2018 1091 1010
2019 1158 1081

Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Statistics Canada, special request.

Compared with men, women are also more likely to self-report experiences of violent victimization.30 In 2014,31 the rate of self-reported violent victimization for women was 85 incidents per 1,000 population, while for men the rate was 67 incidents per 1,000. This rate was even higher among Indigenous women (219E per 1,000 population), compared with non-Indigenous women (81 per 1,000 population) as well as Indigenous men (106E per 1,000 population). The self-reported victimization rate among younger Indigenous women (aged 15 to 24) was over five times higher than same-aged Indigenous and non-Indigenous men, as well as three times higher than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women were more likely than non-Indigenous women to report experiences of violent victimization, even after controlling for a range of risk factors such as age and martial status (Boyce 2016; GSS on Canadians’ Safety [Victimization], Statistics Canada, special request).32

Gender is one way to examine experiences of victimization. However, women make up a diverse group of people whose risk and resiliency is impacted by many other social factors. Certain groups of women are more likely to experience violent victimization. For example, even when controlling for other factors, gay, lesbian and bisexual women self-reported violent victimization at a rate of 281E per 1,000 population, a rate close to four times higher than that of heterosexual women (75 per 1,000 population) and over two times higher than that of gay or bisexual men (121E per 1,000 population; GSS on Canadians’ Safety [Victimization], Statistics Canada, special request; Simpson 2018b). Women and men with a disability reported higher rates of violent victimization compared with women and men without a disability (Cotter 2018). This was true regardless of the type of disability, be it sensory, physical, cognitive or mental health-related. In addition, women with a disability had slightly higher rates of violent victimization compared with men with a disability. For example, women with a physical disability reported violent victimization at a higher rate (241E per 1,000 population) than men with a physical disability (102E per 1,000 population) as well as women without a disability (65 per 1,000 population) (Cotter 2018). Women with mental health disabilities self-reported being violently victimized at a rate over three times higher (260 per 1,000 population) than women without a mental health-related disability (70 per 1,000 population). Similarly, women with a cognitive or learning disability (242E per 1,000 population) and women with a history of homelessness (216 per 1,000 population) were also more likely to have experienced violent victimization (compared with women with no cognitive or learning disability: 79 per 1,000 population and women with no history of homelessness: 73 per 1,000 population). Interestingly, the opposite trend was observed for immigrant women who were less likely to self-report incidents of violent victimization compared with non-immigrant women (45E vs 96 per 1,000 population, respectively). Similarly, visible minority women were less likely to self-report violent victimization (62E per 1,000 population) than women who did not belong to a visible minority group (89 per 1,000 population); however, there were no statistically significant differences between visible minority women and men (Simpson 2018a; GSS on Canadians’ Safety [Victimization], Statistics Canada, special request).

Recent research suggests that immigrants may be less likely to report violent victimization (Xie and Baumer 2019). There may be differing interpretations about what constitutes violence across cultures and beliefs surrounding gender roles and behaviours which may inhibit or discourage immigrant women from recognizing or reporting violence perpetrated against them (Guruge et al. 2012). Additionally, immigrant women may face language barriers that make it difficult to report violence, or they may fear deportation or a breakdown of their sponsorship particularly if the perpetrator is their sponsor (Ahmadzai 2015; Tabibi and Ahmed 2018).

With respect to the specific types of violent victimization, women most often self-reported experiences of physical assault (43 per 1,000 population) and sexual assault (37 per 1,000 population), while robbery represented only a few self-reported incidents (5E per 1,000 population). In comparison, men often self-reported experiences of physical assault (54 per 1,000 population) and robbery (8E per 1,000 population), while sexual assault represented relatively few self-reported incidents (5E per 1,000 population) (Perreault 2015).

The rate of self-reported violent victimization was higher among Indigenous women than non-Indigenous women across all major types of violent crime (Boyce 2016; Brennan 2011; Brzozowski, Taylor-Butts and Johnson 2006; Mahony, Jacob and Hobson 2017; Miladinovic and Mulligan 2015; Perreault 2015; Perreault and Simpson 2016). For example, the rate of physical assault was two times higher among Indigenous women (89E per 1,000 population) than among non-Indigenous women (41 per 1,000 population), and just slightly higher than that of Indigenous men (85E per 1,000 population). The rate of sexual assault among Indigenous women (115E per 1,000 population) was slightly more than three times higher than the rate observed among non-Indigenous women (35 per 1,00033 population) (GSS on Canadians’ Safety [Victimization], Statistics Canada, special request).34

Sexual assault: A gendered crime

Both police-reported and self-reported data support the consistent finding in the literature that sexual assault is a gendered crime, with women making up the majority of victims/survivors and men making up the majority of perpetrators (Department of Justice Canada 2019c).

In 2018, according to the SSPPS, nearly one-in-three (30%) women and nearly one-in-ten (8%) men reported that they had been sexually assaulted at some point since the age of 15 (Cotter and Savage 2019). The relatively high prevalence of these experiences among women is related to the normalization of sexual violence against women in Canadian society. Sexual violence is normalized—made to seem commonplace and acceptable—by many behaviours and practices. This includes, for example, inappropriate sexual jokes, unwanted sexual attention (e.g., comments, gesture, body language), unwanted touching and the depiction of violence against women in the media (Bastomski and Smith 2017; Cotter and Savage 2019; Mellgren et al. 2018). One-in-three women in the provinces (32%) and territories (35%) reported experiences of unwanted sexual behaviour in public in 2018 (Cotter and Savage 2019; Perreault 2020). What’s more, the onus of avoiding sexual assault is often placed on women and girls themselves, rather than preventing men and boys from engaging in violent behaviour (Herberle 2014). This contributes to feelings of responsibility that may prevent women from reporting sexual assault to the police. Furthermore, most sexual assaults against women are committed by someone they know, which can further complicate the decision whether or not to report (Mahony et al. 2017). As noted by Cotter and Savage (2019),

Measuring gender-based violence is complex. The victims—and even the perpetrators—may not themselves perceive the motivations for the incident as being rooted in social structures and systems, which can serve to produce and reproduce gender inequality and gendered violence across many dimensions. Because of this, asking about gender-based violence directly in a survey may not lead to accurate findings or conclusions. Instead, asking about all experiences of violence and using contextual information—such as the gender of the victim and the perpetrator, the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, and the nature and impact of the incident—allows for an examination of violence where the gender-based nature of an incident and the broader systemic factors underpinning these acts can be considered. (p. 4)

Data from the GSS and SSPPS show that very few incidents of sexual assault are reported to police. In the 2018 SSPPS, only 5% of women living in the provinces who had experienced sexual assault in the previous 12 months indicated reporting the incident to police (Cotter and Savage 2019).35 This is consistent with the 2014 GSS findings (5%E).36 In comparison, though not currently available by sex, 38% of people who self-reported incidents of physical assault and 45% who self-reported incidents of robbery indicated that the incident was reported to the police (GSS on Canadians’ Safety [Victimization], Statistics Canada, special request).

Information from qualitative research has found that the low reporting of sexual assault incidents could be due to various factors such as: the internalization of shame, guilt, or stigma; fear of being blamed, re-victimized, dismissed, not believed, or treated disrespectfully; or the broader issues related to the normalization of sexual violence in Canadian society (Johnson 2012; Sable et al. 2006; Taylor and Gassner 2010; Venema 2014). Another factor may be victims/survivors’ lower levels of confidence in the CJS. For example, according to a JUS study on survivors of sexual assault (Lindsay 2014), many respondents noted low levels of confidence in the police (52% reported they were not very or not at all confident), the court process (66%), and the CJS more generally (65%), all of which may affect willingness to disclose the incident to the police. According to 2014 GSS data, most incidents of sexual assault are not reported to police because, for example, the victims/survivors perceived that:

  • the incident was minor and not worth taking the time to report (71%);
  • the incident was a private or personal matter, and was handled informally (67%);
  • no one was harmed or suffered any financial loss (63%);
  • they did not want the hassle of dealing with the police (45%);
  • they believed the police wouldn’t have considered the incident important enough (43%);
  • there was a lack of evidence (43%); and,
  • the offender would not be convicted or adequately punished (40%) (Perreault 2015; Rotenberg 2017).37

Most sexual assaults against women in 2015 that were brought to the attention of the police were committed by someone they know, such as an acquaintance (44%), an intimate partner (11%), a current or former spouse (5%), or other family member38 (19%) (Mahony, Jacob and Hobson 2017). Men represent the majority of sexual assault perpetrators; for example, from 2009 to 2014, 98% of accused charged with sexual assault were male (Rotenberg 2017).

Women aged 18 and older accounted for over nine-in-ten (92%) victims/survivors of police-reported sexual assault in 2018. Following several years of relative stability, the rate of police-reported sexual assault against women increased substantially between 2014 and 2018 (from 69 victims/survivors per 100,000 population to 108 per 100,000 population). There was also a slight increase in the rate of this type of victimization among men during this time period (from 6 victims/survivors per 100,000 population to 10 per 100,000 population) (see Chart 4; Statistics Canada Table 35-10-0051-01). Social media movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have fueled, at least in part, the rise in reporting of sexual assaults since 2017 (Rotenberg and Cotter 2018).

Chart 4. Victims/survivors of police-reported sexual assaults (levels 1, 2, 3),39 aged 18 years and older, by sex of victim, 2009 to 2018 (rate per 100,000 population).

Text version
Rate per 100,000 population
Women Men
2009 66 6
2010 72 7
2011 73 6
2012 73 7
2013 70 7
2014 69 6
2015 75 6
2016 82 6
2017 93 8
2018 108 10

Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Statistics Canada Table 35-10-0051-01.

Social and legislative contexts of sexual assault

Canada has some of the strongest sexual assault laws in the world (Craig 2018; House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights 2017), but legislation alone cannot change public attitudes towards sexual violence that have persisted for centuries. These attitudes include gendered stereotyping about how a victim/survivor of sexual assault should behave, and how women should look and act to avoid sexual assault. In recent years, social media movements like #MeToo and #BeenRapedNeverReported have opened up the conversation around sexual assault and placed it in the public domain (Rotenburg and Cotter 2018). A supportive, trauma- and violence-informed40 response to victims/survivors of sexual assault requires a system-wide approach, including specialized in-depth training for all those working in the CJS, greater public awareness and education, and appropriate, timely and accessible support services

Intimate partner violence (IPV)

IPV is defined as violence committed against an individual by their current or former spouse or dating partner. According to 2018 police-reported data, people who experienced IPV represented close to one-third (30%) of all victims/survivors of police-reported violent crime.41,42 In 2018, women accounted for almost eight-in-ten victims/survivors of police-reported IPV (79% women vs. 21% for men), with IPV rates four times higher among women than men (507 vs. 134 per 100,000) (Burczycka 2019).

Certain groups of women are more at risk of experiencing IPV. For example, in 2018 women aged 25 to 34 years old (1,104 per 100,000 population) were more than 18 times more likely than those aged 55 years and older (60 per 100,000 population) to be victims/survivors of police-reported IPV. This age-related finding was similar among men (Burczycka 2019). Women in rural areas were also more likely than men in rural areas (789 vs. 218 per 100,000 population) as well as women and men in urban areas (447 and 117 per 100,000, respectively) to be victims/survivors of police-reported IPV (Burczycka 2019).

According to self-reports from 2014 GSS data, one-in-five (22%) women with a disability43 reported experiences of spousal violence, compared with 11% of women without a disability. A similar trend was found among men (21% vs. 13%, respectively) (Cotter 2018). One-in-five (23%) gay, lesbian and bisexual women reported experiences of dating violence, which was twice the proportion of gay and bisexual men who reported these experiences (11%) (Ibrahim 2019). Indigenous women were three times more likely to report being a victim of spousal violence (10%E) compared with non-Indigenous women (3%) (Boyce 2016). Some research suggests that, women who are immigrants/newcomers may also be more vulnerable to IPV due to a variety of factors such as economic dependency, language barriers, and a lack of awareness of available community resources (Canadian Women’s Foundation 2017; Migrant Mothers Project 2014). They may also be suffering from trauma as a result of war or oppressive governments. These reasons may increase their fear of re-victimization and deportation which ultimately may impact their likelihood to report experiences of violence to the police (Ibid).

Many incidents of IPV are not reported to police. For example, in 2014, only 35% of incidents of spousal violence committed against women were reported to police while less than one-quarter (24%) of incident committed against men were reported (Mahoney et al. 2017). Research has also shown that women (56%) were more likely than men (20%) to have talked about their experiences of spousal violence with someone they knew, and sought formal supports and services, including counselling, crisis centers and shelters. These differences may be partly explained by the high frequency and severity of spousal violence incidents against women (Mahony et al. 2017). According to the 2014 GSS women were more likely to experience violence that was chronic and severe (Mahony et al. 2017). Among those who experienced spousal violence, women were more likely than men to report a high frequency of incidents (i.e., six incidents or more).44 They also reported more incidents involving the most serious forms of physical and sexual violence, such as being sexually assaulted, beaten, choked, or threatened with a gun or a knife (34% vs. 16%E for men). Women were also more likely to report fearing for their lives during these incidents (31% vs. 8%E, respectively). Additionally, they were more likely to suffer from physical injuries (40% vs. 24%, respectively), some even requiring medical attention as a result of the spousal violence incident (8%E for women45) (Mahony et al. 2017).

Domestic violence does not necessarily cease when the relationship ends; in 2014, 41% of individuals who separated from their abuser suffered physical or sexual violence post break-up, with no significant differences observed between women and men (Burczycka 2016). Leaving an abusive relationship is a key period of risk and can be dangerous. In fact, past research has shown that women are more likely to be killed by an ex-partner than a current partner (Sinha 2013; Statistics Canada 2006). Although women represent a smaller proportion of homicide victims than men overall, women account for the large majority of victims of intimate partner homicides. Between 2008 and 2018, women accounted for about eight in ten victims of this crime in Canada. In 2018, nearly half of all female victims of homicide were killed by an intimate partner, compared with 7% of male homicide victims (Roy and Marcellus 2019).

In addition to the significant physical and emotional harm that IPV has on individuals and families, it is also financially costly to individuals, institutions, and the Canadian economy. A Department of Justice study (2012) estimated the financial cost of spousal violence in Canada in 2009 at $7.4 billion over a one-year period. Of this amount, the CJS bore 4.3% of the total economic impact (costing the system approximately $320.1 million). Victim costs, such as health care, mental health issues, productivity losses, other personal costs and intangible costs such as pain and suffering, accounted for 80.7% of the total economic impact ($6 billion). Third-party costs, such as social services, negative impacts on children exposed to spousal violence and other government expenditures made up 12% of the total economic impact ($889.9 million). In addition, the study found that spousal violence had cost employers an estimated $77.9 million annually (Department of Justice Canada 2012).

Violence against Indigenous women

The gendered impact of colonialism has led to higher rates of violent victimization among Indigenous women, with a significant proportion of incidents going unreported to police (Chansonneuve 2005; Chartrand and Horn 2016; Clark 2019; Hansen 2012; Jackson 1989; Kubik et al. 2009; National Inquiry Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 2019; Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples 1996a; Truth and Reconciliation Commission 2015). According to the 2014 GSS on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), over three-quarters (77%) of non-spousal victimization incidents against Indigenous individuals went unreported to the police compared with two-thirds (66%) for non-Indigenous individuals (Boyce 2016). Some studies suggest that Indigenous individuals are reluctant to report victimization incidents to the police due to certain biases towards Indigenous individuals. These biases may result in their credibility being questioned, their requests for assistance being ignored or not adequately supported (McGlade 2010; National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 2017), and harmful police action (see for example police practice called Starlight Tours as refered to in the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild 2014).46 In addition, Indigenous women, who are at greater risk of having their children placed in state care, may be particularly concerned about engaging with authorities (Human Rights Watch 2013; Moorcroft 2011).

There are also challenges in gathering accurate statistical data about Indigenous individuals (Kong and Beattie 2005). Data are most likely to be accurate when respondents have the opportunity to self-identify as Indigenous and when data collection takes a distinctions-based approach (see Text Box 1 and 2), which is not possible in all stages of the CJS. Even the most comprehensive data source on self-reported victimization is limited as it is known to under-represent many sectors of society, especially Indigenous individuals (Department of Justice Canada 2017). As Indigenous women have been marginalized both socially and economically as the result of Canada’s history of colonization, they constitute a group that may be harder to reach in surveys conducted online or by phone, or through in-person interviews (Kong and Beattie 2005; Perreault 2015; Perreault and Simpson 2016). Those experiencing violence may also be reluctant to participate in surveys for a variety of reasons, including concerns about safety and privacy (see for example Perreault 2015; Canadian Institutes of Health Research 2018). Additionally, small Indigenous communities tend to have close relational networks and people may have feelings of mistrust and apprehension in sharing information outside of their community (Canadian Institutes of Health Research 2018). Indigenous accused within the CJS may also be hesitant to self-identity as Indigenous for fear of unfair, discriminatory, and harmful treatment (Rudin 2005).

Violent attacks against Indigenous women are not only more frequent, they are also more likely to be lethal. Each year, Indigenous women and girls account for at least one-fifth to one-quarter of all female homicides in Canada; a homicide rate roughly between five and seven times higher than all other women and girls, depending on the reporting year (Statistics Canada Table 35-10-0156-01).In 2019, Indigenous women were victims of homicide at a rate of 5.50 per 100,000 population, almost nine times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous women victims of homicide (0.62 per 100,000; see Chart 5; Homicide Survey, Statistics Canada, special request).47,48 Research has shown that rates of homicide differ depending on geographical location. In the North for example, Indigenous women and girls comprise a disproportionately high number of homicide victims compared with non-Indigenous women and girls (see, for example: Mahony et al. 2017; Rotenberg 2019; Conroy 2018; Statistics Canada Table 35-10-0156-01).49

Chart 5. Adult victims of homicide by Indigenous identity and gender of victim, 2015 to 2019 (rate per 100,000 population).

Text version
Rate per 100,000 population
Indigenous female victims Non-Indigenous female victims Indigenous male victims Non-Indigenous male victims
2015 6.19 0.83 16.41 2.22
2016 3.92 0.82 17.41 2.37
2017 5.14 0.81 16.71 2.54
2018 5.4 0.77 13.93 2.66
2019 5.5 0.62 15.94 2.36

Source: Homicide Survey, Statistics Canada, special request.

According to research conducted by the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative,50 Indigenous women were also more likely to be victims of intimate partner homicides with rates eight times higher than non-Indigenous women (Dawson et al. 2018). Authors of the report indicated that colonization, the impact of residential schools, poor socio-economic status, systemic and interpersonal racism, and intergenerational violence may all contribute to these significantly higher rates. In 2019, among Indigenous women, victims of homicide were most often killed by a spouse or other intimate partner51 (42%) or by another family member52 (25%). The relationships were similar between accused and non-Indigenous women victims of homicide (spouse or other intimate partner (48%), another family member (26%)). However a higher proportion of Indigenous women homicide victims were killed by an acquaintance (21% ) and fewer were killed by a stranger (4%) compared with non-Indigenous women (10% and 8%, respectively) (Statistics Canada Table 35-10-0119-01).

It is important to note that these numbers may be greatly under-estimated. In the vast majority of missing persons cases reported to police, there is no foul play involved and the individual is quickly found unharmed (Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2014). However, recent efforts to link missing persons cases with homicides found that in as many as one-in-five homicides of women, the victim was previously reported to police as missing (David 2017; Mulligan et al. 2016; Roy and Marcellus 2019). Indigenous women and girls, are greatly overrepresented among long-term, unresolved missing persons cases (Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2014). Because of limitations in police data, it is likely that other cases of missing Indigenous women and girls may have been misidentified as non-Indigenous so the number of cases could be higher (National Inquiry Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 2019). Although a national review conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 2014 found that Indigenous women and girls were greatly overrepresented in unresolved missing persons’ cases, there has been no ongoing national reporting of these numbers (National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 2019). For all these reasons, the actual rates of violent crime against Indigenous women, and the disparity in comparison with non-Indigenous women, almost certainly continues to be under-estimated.


Footnotes

26 The GSS and SSPPS collects data about Canadians living in all provinces and territories who are 15 years and older. People living in institutions including prisons are not included. The GSS asks respondents to identify any incidents of victimization they experienced within the previous 12 months, and the survey is repeated on a five-year cycle. The SSPPS, first conducted in 2018, focuses on Canadians’ experiences of gender-based violence within the last 12 months, including unwanted sexual behaviours in public spaces, unwanted sexual behaviours at work, unwanted behaviours online, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence. The SSPPS also collects information on childhood maltreatment, and lifetime experience of sexual and physical assault (since age 15).

27 Includes traffic violations causing bodily harm or death.

28 Includes those aged 18 years and over. The victim’s age is calculated based on the end date of an incident, as reported by the police. Some victims/survivors experience violence over a period of time, sometimes years, all of which may be considered by the police to be part of one continuous incident. Excludes victims/survivors where age is over 89.

29 Excludes accused where the gender was unknown. Small counts of victims and accused persons identified as “gender diverse” were assigned to either “male” or “female” in order to ensure the protection of confidentiality and privacy.

30 The GSS on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization) collects information for a subset of offences – sexual assault, robbery, physical assault, breaking and entering, theft of motor vehicle or parts, theft of personal property, theft of household property, and vandalism. Violent victimization as measured by the GSS includes sexual assault, robbery and physical assault. Excludes data from the territories – the survey in the territories was conducted using a different sampling design.

31 Data presented below are from the 2014 GSS Survey on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), unless stated otherwise.

32 In this analysis, some societal factors could not be controlled, such as the impact of residential schools on Indigenous families and communities.

33 The rate of sexual assault for Indigenous men was too unreliable to publish. As with any household survey, there are some data limitations. The results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling errors. Somewhat different results might have been obtained if the entire population had been surveyed. This article uses the coefficient of variation (CV) as a measure of the sampling error. Estimates with a high CV (over 33.3%) were not published because they were too unreliable.

34 For additional breakdowns, such as self-reported violent victimization among marginalized and vulnerable groups by type of violent victimization, see the online Dashboard (Department of Justice Canada 2020a). Note that these only included provincial data to offer a comparison to 2009. For territorial data, please refer to the original data source.

35 Includes the police finding out about the most serious incident of sexual assault in the previous 12 months, either from the respondent or in some other way. The data for men were too unreliable to report.

36 The General Social Survey on Victimization asks whether or not all incidents in the past 12 months came to the attention of police, while the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS) only asks about the most serious incident.

37 Other reasons for not reporting to the police include: no harm was intended; feared or did not want the hassle of dealing with the court process; did not want the offender in trouble with the law; did not want others to find out about the victimization; police would not have been efficient or effective; fear of revenge by the offender or others; police would not have been able to find or identify the offender; police would be biased; received unsatisfactory service from the police in the past; afraid reporting would bring shame and dishonour to the family.

38 Other family members include siblings and all others related by blood, marriage (including common-law), adoption or foster care.

39 Sexual assault level 1 is defined as assault of a sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual assault level 2 is defined as sexual assault in which the assailant uses a weapon, threatens to cause bodily harm to a person other than the victim or causes bodily harm to the victim. Sexual assault level 3 is defined as sexual assault that wounds, maims, disfigures, or endangers the life of the victim.

40 A trauma- and violence-informed approach recognizes the traumatic and long-term impacts of violence on victims/survivors, whether the violence is ongoing or in the past. Trauma- and violence-informed approaches work to increase safety, control and resilience, minimize harm to victims/survivors of violence, and aid healing and justice (Hill 2009). According to Public Health Canada, trauma- and violence-informed approaches are based on the following four principles: understanding the concepts of trauma and violence, and their impacts on peoples’ lives and behaviours; creating emotionally and physically safe environments; fostering opportunities for choice, collaboration, and connection; and providing a strengths-based and capacity-building approach to support client coping and resilience.

41 Excludes victims/survivors where the sex or the age was unknown. Counts represent the number of victims/survivors involved in incidents of IPV. It is possible that individual victims/survivors may have experienced more than one incident, and would therefore be counted more than once here.

42 Victims/survivors aged 90 years and older are excluded from analyses due to possible instances of miscoding of unknown age within this age category. Excludes victims where the sex or age was unknown. Percentages have been calculated excluding unknown relationship.

43 Disabilities include: sensory (hearing or visual); physical (mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain); cognitive (learning, developmental, and memory); and mental health‑related disability.

44 For data on the number of spousal violence incidents reported by female and male victims/survivors, see Mahony, Jacob and Hobson (2017).

45 According to STC, the percentage for men victims/survivors was too unreliable to publish.

46 See, for example, a police practice called “starlight tours” as refered to in the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild 2014. http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/freelaw/Publications_Centre/Justice/Stonechild/Stonechild-FinalReport.pdf

47 Excludes 10% of Indigenous homicide victims where gender identity was unknown.

48 Gender identity was first reported for victims and persons accused of homicide on the 2019 Homicide Survey. Prior to 2019, Homicide Survey data was presented by the sex of victims and accused persons. Caution should be used when comparing counts for sex with those for gender.

49 Note that rates tend to fluctuate more in the North due to smaller population sizes and, therefore, cannot be used to directly compare between groups.

50 The Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative (CDHPI) is a knowledge hub for information to help inform promising practices in homicide prevention. For more information, see: http://cdhpi.ca/.

51 Includes the following opposite-sex and same-sex relationships: boyfriend, girlfriend, extra-marital lover, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and other unspecified intimate relationships.

52 Includes nieces, nephews, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws, etc., related by blood, marriage (including common-law) or adoption. Includes biological, adopted, step and foster relationships.


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