WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals

Table of Contents


Appendix C


(see also Statistics)

How Common is Violence Against Women?

One-half (1/2) of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.1

Who are the Perpetrators of Violence Against Women?

Women face the greatest risk of violence from men they know. Almost one-half (45%) of all Canadian women experienced violence by men known to them.2

How Common is Wife Abuse?

  • 1 in 4 Canadian women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a marital partner.3
  • 1 in 2 women with previous marriages reported experiencing violence at the hands of a previous spouse.4

How Serious is the Violence

  • Sixty-three percent (63%) of women who had been assaulted by a current or past partner or spouse were victimized on more than one occasion, 32% more than 10 times.5
  • One third of women who were assaulted by a partner feared for their lives at some point during the abusive relationship.6
  • 45% of incidents of violence committed by a man against his wife resulted in injury to the wife.7
  • 44% of men who are violent to their wife use weapons during the physical attack.8
  • Women who are separated from their spouses are at particularly high risk of intimate femicide. They are approximately five times more likely to be killed by their intimate partners than other women are. (Woman Killing: Intimate Femicide in Ontario. 1974-1990 p. 52). 9
  • Over the period 1974-1992, a married woman was nine times more likely to be killed by her spouse than by a stranger.10
  • In Canada between 1974-1992, 1,435 women were murdered by their husbands. This is approximately 75 women in each and every year.11

1. Statistics Canada, The Daily, the Violence Against Women Survey, November, 1993 p. 2
2. Statistics Canada, p. 2
3. Statistics Canada, p. 4
4. Statistics Canada, p. 4
5. Statistics Canada, p. 3
6. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Juristat Service Bulletin, Wife Assault: The Findings of a National Survey Vol. 14, No 9 March 1994, p. 8
7. Statistics Canada, p. 6
8. Statistics Canada, p. 6
9. Crawford, Maria; Gartner, Rosemary; Women We Honour Action Committee, Women Killing: Intimate Femicide in Ontario 1974 - 1990. April 1992, p. 52
10. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Juristat Service Bulletin. Spousal Homicide -Vol. 14, No. 8 Margo Wilson and Martin Daly, March 1994 p.1
11. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Spousal Homicide, p. 2


  • Almost one-half (45%) of wife assault cases resulted in physical injury to women
  • The most frequent type of injuries reported were bruises (90%) followed by cuts, scratches and burns (33%), broken bones (12%) and fractures (11%).
  • 10% of abused women stated that they suffered internal injuries and miscarriages.
  • 21% of women abused by a marital partner were assaulted during pregnancy
  • 40% of the women who reported being abused by their marital partners while they were pregnant stated that the abuse began during their pregnancy
  • Approximately four in ten women (543,000 women) who were injured by a marital partner saw a doctor or nurse for medical attention
  • One in four women who were assaulted by their partners told a doctor about their experience

Statistics from Violence Against Women Survey, Statistics Canada, November 1993. Reported in "Wife Assault: The Findings of a National Survey", Rodgers, Karen. Juristat Service, Bulletin, Vol 11, No.9. Canadian Centre for Domestic Statistics, March 1994.


  • Women who are abused by their male partner may be abused during their pregnancy (21% of women who were abused reported being physically and/or sexually assaulted during pregnancy)1

  • Pregnancy is a high-risk time for the onset of physical or sexual abuse by a male partner. (40% of women who were assaulted during their pregnancy reported that the assault began during their pregnancy.)2

  • Many women live in a situation in which they must cope with high levels of stress and anxiety brought on by their partner's continuous emotional abuse. This stress affects their mental and physical health and therefore may negatively impact their pregnancy.

  • Approximately one-quarter (25%) of ever married women who were assaulted by their partner reported using alcohol or medication to help them cope with the situation. If the abused women using these substances are pregnant, then their health and the future health of their children are at risk.3

  • An American study found that abused women were more likely to begin prenatal care late in their pregnancies. (25% of abused adolescent women and 20% of abused adult women in this study did not begin care until the final three months of pregnancy).4

  • During pregnancy, assaults become focussed on the woman's breasts, abdomen and genitals.

  • These assaults can result in placental separation, antepartum hemorrhage, fetal fractures, rupture of the uterus, liver or spleen and preterm babies.

  • Many abused women are sexually assaulted by their partners. Sexual assault could have serious health implications for pregnant women, especially when it occurs during the postpartum period.

  • Pregnant women who have been abused are at increased risk of having low birth weight infants (12.5% verses 6.6%).5
  1. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Juristat Service Bulletin, Wife Assault: The Finding: of a National Survey, Karen Rodgers. Vol 14. no.9, March 1994. p.12.
  2. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Ibid.
  3. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistical, p.11, Ibid.
  4. Parker B, McFarlane J. et al "Physical and Emotional Abuse in Pregnancy: A Comparison of Adult and Teenage Women, Nursing Research. Vol 42, No.3, p 173-177 May/June 1993.
  5. Cited In, Sampells C, Petersen B, Mullard T and Darley D, Abuse Among Pregnant Women Choosing Certified Nurse-Midwife or Physician Providers, Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, Vol 37, No.4, July/August 1992, p.270.


Table of Contents

maintained by AiR (Sask, Canada)