Domestic violence is a real and serious issue in Canada that affects families of all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.
  • Domestic abuse negatively effects individuals, children, families and communities of all cultural, religious and socio-economic statuses
  • In 2010 there were over 102,500 Canadians who were victimized by their spouse or intimate partner. (1)
  • Women are the main victims of domestic abuse in 8 out of 10 police reported victims of intimate partner
  • Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. (2)
  • 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted. (3)
  • On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. Every night, about 200 women are turned away because the shelters are full. (4)
  • On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.  In 2011, from the 89 police reported spousal homicides, 76 of the victims (over 85%) were women. (5)
  • Each year, over 40,000 arrests result from domestic violence – that’s about 12% of all violent crime in Canada. (6)

The United Nations defines violence against women as:

  • “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. (7)
  • It is “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults or adolescents who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. (8)
  • It is an attempt to control one’s partner through a “pattern of coercive and assaultive behaviors that include physical, sexual, verbal, and psychological attacks and economic coercion”
  • “It is the pervasive and methodical use of threats, intimidation, manipulation, and physical violence by someone who seeks power and control over their intimate partner. Abusers use a specific tactic or a combination of tactics to instill fear in and dominance over their partners. The strategies used by abusers are intended to establish a pattern of desired behaviors from their victims.” (9)

You feel:

  • Fear of your partner much of the time
  • Avoid certain topics due to fear
  • Believe you deserve to be mistreated or abused
  • Feel that you are crazy, feel shame, isolate yourself from your family or friends
  • Frequently adjust your behaviour in order to prevent emotional or physical attacks
  • Feel you cannot do anything right
  • Feel put-down in the relationship

Your partner:

  • Has an unpredictable temper
  • Humiliates or yells at you, calls you names
  • Blames you for their behaviour
  • Belittles you and your accomplishments
  • Isolates you either in fact or by pressure
  • Pressures or coerces you to perform sexual acts
  • Destroys your belongings
  • Threatens to take your children away
  • Controls your behaviour, activities
  • Limits your access to financial or other resources (phone, money, car, documents)
  • Threatens to hurt you or themselves if you leave
  • Objectifies you
  • Uses religious, cultural or social texts/roles to justify abusive behaviour
  • Hurts you physically (restrains, slaps, pushes, punches, bits, kicks or otherwise physically harms you)
  • Children who witness abuse are at greater risk for anxiety, behavioural and depressive disorders. They have increased difficulties at school. They are more likely to use violence as a form of conflict resolution. (10)
  • Most children of women who are victims of domestic violence are present during acts of physical abuse: 75% witness the violence; 20% participate in it and 11% are also victims of the abuse. (11) 
  • The DPJ considers exposure to domestic violence a form of psychological ill-treatment 
  • If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or SOS Violence Conjugal, or refer to our resource page here
  • Listen and believe her. Let her know she is not to blame. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help, but don’t offer to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or feels unsafe
  • Put her safety first. Never talk to anyone about abuse in front of their suspected abuser. Unless she specifically asks for it, never give her materials about domestic abuse or leave information through voice messages or emails that might be discovered by her abuser
  • If she decides to stay in the relationship, try not to judge her. Remember, leaving an abuser can be extremely dangerous. Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can offer a woman who is being abused is your respect
  • Get support for yourself and learn about resources for your loved one
  1. Angus Reid Omnibus Survey, Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2012. (Adapted from
  2. CSS des sommets, CSS, 2013,,%20but%20it%20always%20hurts.pdf
  3. Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Article 1, 1993 (A/RES/48/104).
  4. Domestic Violence, Child Welfare, 2015,
  5. Family violence in Canada, Statistics Canada, 2010,
  6. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2009, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, p. 5. Available:
  7. Family violence in Canada, Statistics Canada, 2010,
  8. “Shelters for Abuse Women in Canada, 2010,”Juristat, Marta Burczycka and Adam Cotter, Statistics Canada, June 27, 2011. Based on shelter admission for a randomly selected day, April 15, 2010. Available:
  9. The Violence Against Women Survey, Statistics Canada, 1993.
  10. What is domestic violence, Domestic Violence London, 2010,
  11. Witnessing Domestic Violence: The effect on children. MELISSA M. STILES, M.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin Am Fam Physician. 2002 Dec 1;66(11):2052-2067.