Fri, July 15, 2005

Common-law abuse is higher

StatsCan issues 5-year report on family violence



COMMON-LAW couples are three times more likely to become victims of spousal violence than those who exchanged wedding vows, Statistics Canada reported yesterday.

And while ex-spouses and partners abused each other less between 1999 and last year, the number of men and women treated violently by a current mate stayed about equal.

StatsCan's five-year report on family violence found an estimated 7% of women and 6% of men -- or an estimated 653,000 women and 546,000 men -- "encountered some form of violence by a current or previous spouse or common-law partner."

Women continue to be victims of more severe violence and stalking than men. They're twice as likely to be hurt, three times more likely to fear for their life "and twice as likely to be the targets of more than 10 violent episodes."

Pushing, shoving and slapping represented the most common incidents, but in the worst cases, 23% of the women reported being kicked, choked, bitten, hit or had a gun or knife used against them, compared to 15% of the men surveyed. Just 2% of the injured men got medical aid, compared to 13% of the women.

Violence was worst around the time couples broke up, and more than twice the number of women later sought restraining orders, compared to men, the report said.

The survey found about three-quarters of the 1,994 suicide-murders from 1961 to 2003 were by a relative, 97% of the victims were female and more than half were killed by ex-spouses. Since 1991, 25% of the victims were 18 or younger and 66% of the killers were dads, 27% moms, 2% step-dads.

Emotional abuse was higher among women, 24% compared to 19% of the men, with the most common examples including isolation from relatives and friends, being cut off from family income, or having personal property or possessions destroyed.

If a partner was drinking earlier, mates risked becoming victims at rate six times higher than if booze wasn't involved.

Spousal violence was worst among people aged between 15 and 24, couples who split, or unions of less than three years. Aboriginals were victimized at rates about triple the rest of Canadian society.

The General Social Survey on Victimization also tackled stalking for the first time. The report said women were twice as likely to be harassed by an ex-partner who used repeated and unwanted attention, obscene phone calls, or spied on, intimidated or threatened them, while men were "more likely than female victims to be harassed by an acquaintance."