Highlights: Family violence in Canada – A statistical profile
Self-reported spousal violence, 2009
The 2009 General Social Survey (GSS) found that self-reported
spousal violence remained stable from 2004, when the survey was last
conducted. Similar to 2004, 6% of Canadians with a current or former
spouse reported being physically or sexually victimized by their spouse in
the 5 years preceding the survey.
The proportion of Canadians who reported spousal violence was similar
across the majority of provinces. The exceptions were in Newfoundland and
Labrador and Quebec where the proportions were below the national average.
Overall, the seriousness of violence experienced in spousal incidents
remained stable between 2004 and 2009. The proportion of victims
who reported the most serious forms of spousal violence such as being sexually
assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or knife was similar to 2004.
Younger Canadians were more likely to report being a victim of spousal
violence than were older Canadians. Those aged 25 to 34 years
old were three times more likely than those aged 45 and older to
state that they had been physically or sexually assaulted by their spouse.
In 2009, victims of spousal violence were less likely to report
the incident to police than in 2004. Just under one-quarter (22%) of
spousal violence victims stated that the incident came to the attention of
the police, down slightly from 2004 (28%).
In addition to physical and sexual violence, many Canadians also reported
being the victim of emotional and financial abuse. As in 2004, close
to one in five (17%) Canadians said that they had experienced some form of
emotional or financial abuse in their current or previous relationship, with
put-downs and name calling being the most common form of abuse.
Police-reported family violence against children and youth, 2009
Police-reported data for 2009 indicate that children and youth
under the age of 18 were most likely to be sexually victimized or
physically assaulted by someone they knew (85% of incidents).
Nearly 55,000 children and youth were the victims of a sexual
offence or physical assault in 2009, about 3 in 10 of
which were perpetrated by a family member.
Six in ten children and youth victims of family violence were assaulted
by their parents. The youngest child victims (under the age of three years)
were most vulnerable to violence by a parent.
In 2009, the rate of family-related sexual offences was more than
four times higher for girls than for boys. The rate of physical assault was
similar for girls and boys.
Police-reported family violence against seniors, 2009
In 2009, police reported over 2,400 senior victims (65 years
and older) of violent crime by a family member, representing about one-third
of all violent incidents committed against older adults.
Family violence against seniors tends to be lower compared to younger
age groups. The rate for seniors in 2009 was less than half that
for adults aged 55 to 64 and more than eight times lower
than the rate for adults aged 25 to 34.
Although the overall rate of violent victimization was higher for senior
men than senior women, family-related violent victimization was higher among
senior women. Senior men were more likely to be victimized by an acquaintance
or a stranger than a family member.
Spouses and grown children were the most common perpetrators of family
violence against senior women, while grown children were most often the perpetrators
of family violence against senior men.
Just over half (53%) of police-reported family violence against seniors
involved common assaults, the least serious form of assault.
Six in ten police-reported incidents of family violence against seniors
did not result in physical injury. When physical injuries were sustained,
the vast majority were relatively minor in nature.
Family-related homicides, 2000 to 2009
Between 2000 and 2009, there were 738 spousal
homicides, representing 16% of all solved homicides and nearly half (47%)
of all family-related homicides.
The 2009 spousal homicide rate remained stable for the third
consecutive year. This follows nearly three decades of gradual decline.
Women continue to be more likely than men to be victims of spousal homicide.
In 2009, the rate of spousal homicide against women was about three times
higher than that for men.
Between 2000 and 2009, men were most likely to be killed
by a common-law partner (66%) whereas women were slightly more likely to have
been killed by their legally married spouse (39%) than by a common-law partner
(33%). In addition, female victims of spousal homicide were more likely than
male victims to be killed by a partner from whom they were separated (26%
For both male and female spouses, homicide rates peaked among 15 to 24 year
olds and declined with increasing age.
Stabbings were the most common method used to commit spousal homicide,
particularly against male victims.
Family-related homicides against children and youth
Over the past 10 years, there were 326 homicides
committed by a family member against a child or youth (0 to 17 years),
accounting for 7% of all solved homicides and 21% of all family-related
Parents committed the majority (84%) of family-related homicides against
children and youth.
Infants under the age of one experienced higher rates of family homicide
compared to older children.
Children under 4 years of age who were killed by a family
member were most often shaken or beaten to death whereas older children were
most often killed with a weapon, such as a knife or firearm.
Family-related homicides against seniors
There were 160 family-related homicides against seniors (65 years
and older) between 2000 and 2009, accounting for 4% of
all solved homicides and 10% of all family-related homicides.
The rate of family-related homicides against seniors has gradually declined
over the past 30 years. In 2009, the rate of family-related
homicide against seniors was 61% lower than in 1980.
Senior women were most likely to be killed by their spouse (41%) or
son (36%), while the majority of senior men were killed by their son (72%).
Frustration, anger and despair was the most common motivation for a
family member killing a senior person, resulting in about one-third (33%)
of all such homicides between 2000 and 2009. Another 26%
of family-related homicides against seniors stemmed from an argument.