The Scope of the Problem

Excerpt from: " La violence conjugale... c'est quoi au juste? "

Regroupement provincial des maisons d'hébergement et de transition pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale, 2000.

We are often led to believe that spousal violence has increased in the past years. But it's not true. It has always been as frequent at all times. For example, in Roman times the husband had final say over the life or death of his wife just as he had with his slaves.

"In 1929, Canadian women acquired the legal status as a person. Up until then, they were considered as the property of their fathers and husbands."  [translated citation]

Even though recent statistics show an increase in the number of cases, it is only because we discuss it more openly today. Before 1975, who talked about spousal abuse? At first, it was the women's groups that supported assaulted women and began to file complaints more often. With the pressure of the women's groups, the stakeholders, the media, the Department of Justice and the general public followed in such a way that now more than ever women are able to talk about the violence they are subjected to in their intimate relationship.

Because women come forward about spousal abuse and because stakeholders (police, judges, social workers, etc.) are more aware of the problem, we are now able to better quantify the problem that is spousal abuse:

  • According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec (2002), in a year, more than 100,000 women (6% of women 18 years old and over living with a spouse) in Quebec suffered physical violence from their spouse.
  • According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, in a year, 13% of the women who are victims of spousal abuse have been physically injured by their spouse (14,000 Quebec women married or in a common-law relationship).
  • In 2003, according to the Sécurité publique du Québec, there were approximately 16,500 victims of crimes against the person committed in a conjugal context, and 84% of the victims were women.
  • According to the Sécurité publique, women were the main victims of spousal homicides. From 1995 to 2000, there were a total of 101women killed by a former spouse or close friend, which represents 16.8% of deaths each year in Quebec.
  • In 1999, according to Quebec police statistics, women who are victims of spousal abuse represent 43% of murdered women.
  • In 2000, according to Statistics Canada, most of the women killed by their spouse or close friend were 15 to 24 years of age. According to the Public Safety Department, it is also in that age category that we find the highest victimization rate in a spousal relationship.
  • Shelters part of the Regroupement take in nearly 8,000 women and children each year.

"In Quebec, women owed obedience by virtue of marital authority until the early sixties."  [translated citation]

La violence conjugale... c'est quoi au juste?  WWW.MAISONS-FEMMES.QC.CA