Victimization of Indigenous Women and Girls

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July 2017

Research and Statistics Division

Victimization of Indigenous Women and Girls

While all women and girls in Canadian society face an unacceptable risk of violence, particularly at the hands of intimate partners, research shows that Indigenous women and girls self-report experiencing dramatically higher rates of violent victimization.Footnote 1

Self-reported rate of sexual assault of Indigenous women more than triple that of non-Indigenous women

According to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) on VictimizationFootnote 2, the rate of self-reported sexual assault of Indigenous people (58EFootnote 3 per 1,000) was almost triple that of non-Indigenous people (20 per 1,000). The rate of sexual assault self-reported by Indigenous women (113EFootnote 4 per 1,000) was more than triple that of non-Indigenous women (35 per 1,000).

Self-reported rate of maltreatment of Indigenous girls before the age of 15 close to triple that of Indigenous boys

There was a higher proportion of Indigenous people who self-reported being physically or sexually maltreated before the age of 15 (40%) than non-Indigenous people (29%). More specifically, a larger proportion of Indigenous girls (14%) self-reported experiencing both physical and sexual maltreatment before the age of 15 than Indigenous boys (5%E).Footnote 5

Self-reported spousal violence of Indigenous women three times higher than non-Indigenous women

The 2014 GSSFootnote 6 found that 10%E of Indigenous women self-reported having been assaulted by a current or former spouse within the last five years compared with 3% of their non-Indigenous counterparts.Footnote 7 The proportion of self-reported spousal violence against Indigenous women was almost twice as high in the territories (19%) than in the provinces (10%E).

Injury in cases of self-reported spousal violence more common for Indigenous women victims

According to the 2014 GSS on VictimizationFootnote 8, injury in cases of self-reported spousal violence is more common for Indigenous female victims (51%) than for non-Indigenous female victims (39%). Of these Indigenous female victims, almost half (56%E) self-reported severe forms of spousal violence (i.e. where the victim was sexually assaulted, beaten, choked, or threatened with a gun or a knife).

Indigenous female victims of spousal violence more likely to fear for their lives

The 2014 GSSFootnote 9 also highlights that Indigenous female victims were more likely to fear for their lives (53%E) in comparison to non-Indigenous female victims (29%).Footnote 10 Indigenous females (25%) were also more likely than non-Indigenous females (13%) to self-report emotionalFootnote 11 or financialFootnote 12 abuse by a current or former spouse. In a little over nine out of ten cases (96%), an Indigenous female victim of physical violence also self-reported an emotional or financial victimization.

Indigenous mothers have higher self-reported frequency of abuse compared to non-Indigenous mothers

Daoud et al. (2012)Footnote 13 found that self-reported abuse towards Indigenous mothers was higher (31%) than that reported by non-Indigenous mothers (12%). The most common perpetrator was a partner, husband or boyfriend. The study also showed high proportions of abuse among lone-mothersFootnote 14 (35%). In another study, Daoud et al. (2013)Footnote 15 found that close to one third (31%) of Indigenous mothers reported being a victim of abuse and 16% reported being a victim of intimate partner violence (IPV)Footnote 16. In comparison, 12% of non-Indigenous mothers reported being a victim of abuse and 6% reported being a victim of IPV.

IPV can worsen after a separation

It is common for IPV to worsen after a separation. A study by Pedersen et al. (2013)Footnote 17 found that 22% of Indigenous women self-reported being a victim of post-separation intimate partner violence (PSIPV) compared to 7% of non-Indigenous women within five years after the separation. Results showed that coercive controlFootnote 18 and age were predominant factors explaining the inequalities in PSIPV between Indigenous women and non-Indigenous women. The study found that Indigenous women experience more coercive control than non-Indigenous women and that more of them were younger than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

About a third of Indigenous female victims of spousal violence contact a formal victim service

The 2014 GSS on VictimizationFootnote 19 showed that 71% of Indigenous women who were victims of spousal violence contacted a formal victim service. The 2013/14 Transition Home Survey (THS)Footnote 20 show a total of 5% of all shelters are located on reserves. In addition, more than half (63%) of the shelters in Canada reported offering culturally relevant services for Indigenous women, 46% reported offering culturally relevant services for Indigenous children and 21% reported having available services in at least one Indigenous language (primarily Cree, Ojibway or Inuktitut). Although the THS did not report on the Indigenous identity of its clients, there were more admissions in the territories and in western provinces. A previous THS (2005/06)Footnote 21 collected data on the nature and use of shelters situated on reserves. Facilities on-reserve were twice as likely to be emergency-oriented than those off-reserve. As well, the on-reserve shelter clientele was more likely to have previously used the shelter compared to clients in off-reserve shelters. Finally, while the majority of women in shelters both on- and off-reserve were fleeing abuse, the proportion of those on-reserve fleeing abuse was slightly higher (78% and 73%, respectively).