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revised September 10, 2012

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For more information on Family Violence call:
Peel Health at

Facts and Figures

  • 25% of women have experienced physical violence at the hands of a current or former partner (Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women, 1993)

  • 50% of women reporting physical assault have also experienced sexual assault in the same relationship (Statistics Canada, 1993)

  • 1in 6 pregnant women are abused during pregnancy (Middlesex – London Task Force Report, 2000)

  • On average, 40 women are killed in Ontario each year by a current or former partner, accounting for 75% of all female homicides (Ontario Women’s Justice Network, 2000)

  • Children from violent homes experience serious emotional and behavioural problems at rates of 10 to 17 times greater than children from non-violent homes (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 1999)

  • In Canada, the financial burden of woman abuse amounts to over $4 billion a year (Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children, 1995)

    For more woman abuse facts, please see the Abuse Screening Kit for physicians and other health care professionals.
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Myths and Facts

Myth #1: Woman abuse is more common among certain groups of women.

Fact: Woman abuse happens regardless of age, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, marital status, religion, or sexual orientation. However, young women under the age of 25 are often at greatest risk of abuse and spousal homicide (Statistics Canada).

Myth #2: Woman abuse is not a health issue.

Fact: Woman abuse is a growing public health and social concern. An estimated 25% of Canadian women have experienced violence at the hands of current or past marital partner since the age of 16. The effects of woman abuse can result in a combination of negative physical, emotional, and psychological health outcomes.

Myth# 3: Pregnancy is a time when women are safe from abuse.

Fact: Pregnancy increases women’s vulnerability to violence and abuse. According to Statistics Canada, 21% of assaulted women reported being assaulted during pregnancy. Many women further reported that they were first abused when their pregnancy began.

Myth #4: Women who separate from their abusive partners or spouses are no longer at risk for abuse.

Fact: The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is the first 3-4 months following separation. If you or someone you know is planning to leave an abusive relationship, Peel agencies can help.

Myth #5: Woman abuse occurs because of alcohol or drug use by the abuser.

Fact: Substance abuse is a separate issue. While men will often cite drug or alcohol use as excuses for their abusive behavior, woman abuse occurs because of the abuser’s desire to establish and maintain power and control in the relationship. Ending the abuser’s drinking or alcohol problems will not end the abusive behavior. They must be seen and treated as separate issues.

Myth #6: If an abused woman really wanted to leave the relationship, she would.

Fact: Leaving an abusive relationship can be very difficult and potentially dangerous. Many reasons exist for why women stay in the abusive relationship, including:

  • Fear her partner will harm herFear that she might lose her children
  • Financial dependency on her partner/spouse
  • Not feeling she has anywhere to go
  • Shame that the community might ‘find out’
  • Guilt for breaking up the family

Myth # 7: Woman abuse is a private matter and no-one else’s business.

Fact: Woman abuse affects the whole community and is a criminal offense. Physical abuse, sexual abuse/assault and criminal harassment (stalking) are crimes under the Criminal Code of Canada.

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Health Effects in Women

Physical Health Effects:

  • Broken bones or sprains
  • Bites
  • Concussions
  • Internal injuries
  • Lacerations, scarring
  • Disfigurement

Chronic Health Effects:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Irritable bowl syndrome
  • Hypertension
  • Gastro-intestinal pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic Infection

Sexual and Reproductive Health Effects:

  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Low birth weight
  • Gynaecological disorders such as chronic urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain, and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Mental Health Effects:

Health Effects in Children

When children are exposed to domestic violence, they may begin to experience a range of emotional, behavioural and psychological problems. Find out how exposure to violence affects children during different stages of their life.

Infants (birth to one year)

  • Developmental delays. Negative experiences during infancy may lead to serious emotional, behavioural, and learning problems later in life. While children will grow and develop at different rates, there are common development milestones that parents, caregivers and health professionals should watch for in children. The Nipissing District Development Screen is a tool designed to assess potential development delays in children 0-6 years.
  • Attachment issues. Research has shown that the more serious the level of partner violence, the higher the likelihood of insecure, specifically disorganised, attachments (Zeanah et al, 1999)
  • Sleeping or eating difficulties
  • Excessive crying

Pre-school (2-5 years)

  • Sleeping and eating difficulties (e.g., fear of falling asleep, nightmares, loss of appetite)
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Aggressive behaviours (e.g., hitting, biting, kicking, screaming)
  • Bedwetting
  • Excessive clinging or concern when a parent leaves
  • Destruction of property (e.g., toys or other objects)

Pre-Adolescent (6-12 years)

  • Aggressive behaviour (e.g., fighting in school with peers or bullying)
  • Withdrawn from others and activities (at home or at school)
  • Poor grades at school/ trouble concentrating.
  • Sadness that lasts for days
  • Disrespectful behaviour towards family and/or peers (e.g., swearing, yelling, threats)
  • Destruction of property (e.g., toys or other objects)

Adolescence (13-14 years)

  • Aggressive behaviour (e.g., fighting in school with peers or bullying
  • Poor self esteem. Violence at home may raise feelings of guilt and/or and shame, which can negatively impact teens’ feelings of self-worth
  • Frequent alcohol and/or drug use
  • Running away from home
  • Disrespectful/abusive behaviour towards family, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends (e.g., swearing, yelling, threats, hitting and/or pushing)
  • Development of eating disorders (e.g., anorexia, bulimia), particularly in girls

Late Adolescence (15-18 years)

  • Disrespectful/abusive behaviour towards family, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends (e.g., swearing, yelling, threats, hitting or pushing)
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Running away from home
  • Poor self-esteem. Violence at home may raise feelings of guilt and/or and shame, which can negatively impact teens’ feelings of self-worth
  • Decline in school achievement and attendance
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Revised: September 10, 2012

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