SIXTY-SEVEN PERCENT OF CANADIANS HAVE KNOWN A WOMAN WHO HAS EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE

SIXTY-SEVEN PERCENT OF CANADIANS HAVE KNOWN A WOMAN WHO HAS
EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE

National Omnibus for the Canadian Women’s Foundation shows women in Canada still endure violence at alarming rate

Toronto (ON) – December 10, 2012 – A new study commissioned by the Canadian Women’s Foundation has found that, over the course of their lives, 67 percent of Canadians have known a woman who has been physically or sexually abused, with Alberta having the highest reported incidence at 74 per cent. Violence against women is identified by the UN as a human rights violation and is a major factor in women’s health and well-being.  December 10 marks the end of the 16 Days of Action to End Violence Against Women and an international and local campaign focused on the critical and urgent need to end gender-based violence.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation has helped women move out of violence for more than 20 years by funding emergency shelters, programs that help women and their children rebuild their lives after abuse and prevention programs that teach girls and boys to create healthy relationships and stop the violence – for good. The foundation commissioned the national survey to determine how many Canadians, not just those benefiting from the programs it funds, have been indirectly affected by knowing a woman who has experienced abuse. 

“The fact that two thirds of Canadians have known a woman who has been abused underscores that violence against women is still a serious issue in Canada and cannot be kept behind closed doors” said Beverley Wybrow, President and CEO at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “Unfortunately, many women will experience abuse they never speak about.  It is critical that we are talking about, funding and taking action to build a Canada that is safer for our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends.”

The survey also shows that Canadian women are more likely to have known another female who has experienced physical or sexual abuse (74%) than men (59%).  Here are some tips to follow if you know or think you know a woman experiencing abuse:

  • If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the emergency number in your community.
  • 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. However, abuse thrives in secrecy, so speak up if you can do so safely.
  • If she wants to talk, listen. If she doesn’t, simply tell her she does not deserve to be harmed and that you are concerned for her safety. 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.
  • If she decides to stay in the relationship, try not to judge her. She has to make her own decisions. Remember, leaving an abuser can be extremely dangerous. Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can offer a woman who is being abused is your willingness to listen.
  • Learn about emergency services in your community, such as your local crisis line, women’s shelter or sexual assault centre. Search on-line, or consult the front pages of your telephone directory.

Methodology: Online survey among 1,504 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists, conducted on November 22 and November 23, 2012.  The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada.