We know there are many reasons why women stay in abusive relationships, but new research shows it largely boils down to raising children, economic dependency and having nowhere to go.
“Many women who experience domestic violence don’t know where to find the support they need to leave an abusive partner,” Anu Dugal, director of violence prevention at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, said in a statement. “There are more than 445 emergency shelters in Canada, each of which offers support and a safe place for women to begin rebuilding their lives after abuse. However, many Canadians do not know that they exist, proving that we need to continue to talk about and raise awareness for domestic violence issues and support services in Canada.”
Each year in Canada, 40,000 domestic assault related arrests are made — making up about 12 per cent of all violent crime in the country, according to the foundation. However, only 22 per cent of all incidents are reported to authorities, implying the real percentage of cases can be much higher. To understand this in numbers, in 2011, just over 173,600 women aged 15 and older were victims of violent crime, according to Statistics Canada. That's equivalent to a rate of 1,207 female victims for every 100,000 women in the country.
The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 randomly selected Canadian adults through an Angus Reid Forum, also showed that 97 per cent of Canadians considered it unacceptable for a husband, boyfriend or partner to hit a woman in any situation. Even with this optimistic insight, a 2012 poll revealed at lease 67 per cent of Canadians know a woman who has been physically or sexually abused.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation's ninth annual campaign to end violence against women runs until Mother’s Day on May 12. The government also has a national day of remembrance and action every year on Dec. 6.
If you know or suspect someone in an abusive relationship, feel free to call the Assaulted Women's Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 or 911.
If you know a woman experiencing abuse who is asking for help, here are some steps both of you can consider:
Tell someone she trusts about the abuse.
Plan where to go in case of emergency – at a friend or family member's place, emergency shelter or police station.
Teach her children a code word that can be used when they need to seek help or escape the home.
Have a list of phone numbers to call in case of emergency and teach her children how and why to call 911.
Hide a spare set of keys, cell phone and some money near an escape route.
Teach her children that abuse is never right, even when someone they love is the abuser. Teach them the importance of keeping safe when there is abuse by not attempting to intervene when abuse happens.
Have copies of important documents like passports, health cards, birth certificates or financial information with her or easily accessible.