Domestic Violence: Facts and Figures

All the following is from Breaking the Cycle of Family Violence, a book published by the Correction Service Canada. It has no ISBN. (Without Permission).

Facts and Figures
[1]. Extent of the problem

* In 1982, the Canadian House of Commons officially adopted that 1 out of 10 Canadian women are battered by their husbands or live-in partners. [3] Other studies suggest 1 out of 8 Canadian women are physically, sexually or psychologically abused by their partners. [4]

* An American study [5] showed 16% of married couples had used some form of violence in the previous year. A 1987 Toronto study showed 14% of cohabiting women had been physically abused during the survey year, and 36% reported having been abused by husband, boyfriend or date. [6]

* One Canadian study [7] says 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 10 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. The same study reports that among convicted child sexual offenders, 3 out of 4 were known to the child victims, and 1 out of 5 had an incestuous relationship to the child.

* An estimated 1% of family violence is directed against husbands. [8]

[2]. Wife Abuse

Wife assault constitutes the largest proportion of family violence - almost 76%. [11]

Incidents of wife assault are as common in rural households as in cities. [12]

Wife assault occurs in high income and low income families. [12]

One study [13] of 4,000 abused women and their partners showed that 75% of the partnerships were supported by employment income from both partners. (17% were supported by public assistance and 8% by relatives or other sources).

Arguments over money was cited most frequently as the "topic" which precipitated violence.

Wife assault spans all ages, races, and nationalities. However, some age groups have a higher rates of wife assault. In one study, 1/3 of the victims, and 3/4 of the abusers were between ages 26 and 50. [14]

Wife abuse begins early in the relationship. [15] In about 70% of abusive relationships, the violence began in the early years of the relationship, and increased in frequency over time. The first violent incident often occurred during pregnancy.

Wife assault is rarely a one-time occurrence. Each assault increases the likelihood that another violent incident will occur. The more it happens, the more likely it is to happen again. [16]

Beatings are frequently severe. In about one-third of cases, medical treatment is required. Injuries include bruises, lacerations, fractures, dislocations, burns, scalds. About 20% of abused women have been attacked with fists, boots, broken bottless, knives, razors, belts with buckles. [17]

Wife assault happens after hours. 70% of wife battering occurs between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. About half the incidents occur on weekends. [18]

Most wife assaults happen in private places, away from the eyes of neighbours, friends, and any potential help for the victim. Most cases occur in the family home. The kitchen and master bedroom are the most dangerous rooms. [19]

Wife assaults do become homicides. Of the 107 reported murders in immediate families in Canada in 1975, the wife was killed by the husband in 49 cases. The husband was killed by the wife in 8. Of all homicide victims in Canada between 1961 and 1974, 60% of all female victims were killed within a family context, more than double the proportion of male victims. [20]

Husband Abuse

Some wives do abuse their husbands. [material deleted]

Husband abuse seems to follow patterns. In cases where husbands have been physically abused, three patterns are common:

1. Some relationships are characterized by mutual violence. In these families, violence can erupt at any time, initiated by husband, wife, or other family memebers.

2. In many cases of husband assault, wives are striking back after years of being abused by their husbands. [material deleted]

3. A small minority of husband abuse cases follow a classic long-term aggressor-victim pattern, with the wife as aggressor.


Historical Traditions [38]

* In 2500 B.C., if a wife talked back to her husband he could engrave her name on a brick and use the brick to hit her.

* In the middle ages, church and state accepted that wives and children were the property of the husband and father. Wives and children could be bought and sold. Some were burned at the stake for talking back.

* In the eighteenth century, it was ruled that a husband could not beat his wife with a stick thicker than the width of his thumb -- hence, the "rule of thumb."

* In the nineteenth century, a judge stated, "If no permanent injury has been inflicted ... by the husband, it is better to draw the curtain, shut out the public gaze, and leave the parties to forget and forgive." Even in the twentieth century, "drawing the curtain" has been a practice of those in a position to help.

Myths about family violence:

Battering is a private matter. No one should disrupt family sanctity.

Family violence is rare or we'd hear more about it.

Women "ask for it." They drive men to violence.

Abused women like it, or they wouldn't stay.

There's no point in helping abused women. They'll just go back.

Abusers are violent in all their relationships.

Drinking causes abusive behavour.

Giving abusers "a taste of their own medicine" will stop the abuse.

Children who grow up in abusive situations get used to it and can learn to deal with the abuse.

Nobody can help abusers.


3. McLeod, Linda: Wife Battering in Canada: the Vicious Cycle,. Canadian Government Publishing Centre, Hull, Quebec, 1980. Other researchers generally consider this a low estimate.

4. Steve Fletcher: "Abusers learn to wield power to get their way," in It Shouldn't Hurt if You Care. Lynard Publishers, Leduc, Alberta, 1988.

5. Straus, Murray, Richard Gelles, Suzanne Steinmetz: Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. Anchor, 1980.

6. Smith, M.D.: "The incidence and prevalence of woman abuse in Toronto," In Violence and Victims, Vol.2, No. 3, 1987.

7. Committee on Sexual Offences, Against Children: Report of the Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and youths ("The Badgley Report"). Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Minister of National Health and Welfare, Ottawa, Ontario, 1984.

8. Dobash, Rebecca and Russel Dobash: Violence Against Wives. The Free Press, New York, 1979.

11. Small, Shirley Endicott: "Why Husband Beating is a Red Herring," in Deborah Sinclair: Understanding Wife Assault, Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, Toronto, Ontario, 1985.

12. MacLeod, 1980.

13. Roy, Maria: "Four Thousand Partners in Violence: a Trend Analysis," in Maria Roy, Ed.: The Abusive Partner: An Analysis of Domestic Battering. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1982.

14. Roy, 1981.

15. MacLeod, 1980; Roy, 1982.

16. MacLeod, 1980.

17. MacLeod, 1980.

18. MacLeod, 1980

19. MacLeod, 1980.

20. MacLeod, 1980.

31. Small, 1985.

38. Material adapted from Hutchinson, Bonnie: Breaking the Pattern: How Alberta Women Can Help Assaulted Women and Their Families. Alberta social Services, Edmonton, 1984.

Note: The original and subsequent references to McLeod and MacLeod are entered as printed. I do not know which spelling is correct. wjm

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