February 25, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Recall from yesterday that the most recent data on inter-spousal violence from Statistics Canada show that Canadian victims overwhelmingly refuse to involve the police in the incident. A whopping 81% of victims don’t call the police. Their reasons for not doing so all cluster around the notion that the incident is a private one between the two individuals and no one else’s business.
I said yesterday that that seems to me to be, in most cases, the wiser move. The fact is that the vast majority of DV results in either no injuries at all or only minor ones. Moreover, they’re usually isolated incidents. Repeat abusers are few albeit the serious danger to the ones with whom they live. And by now, most people are aware of the sometimes draconian nature of the response by police and courts. Often as not, one or the other spouse is removed from the home and not allowed to return, sometimes until months later. That means he/she must find another place to live, an expense that’s often not in the family budget. And of course, if there are children in the family, they effectively lose a parent for as long as the court desires.
None of that is appealing to most people, so they try to manage the situation themselves. Whether they’re successful or not is anyone’s guess, but, since most DV incidents are one-off affairs, there’s probably not much “managing” to do. Still, some data from the recent report suggests adults may learn from DV.
According to the 2014 GSS on victimization, spousal violence was more frequently noted among ex-partners or spouses within relationships that have since ended, than among individuals currently in a marriage or common-law relationship. While 2% of those in a current relationship reported being victims of spousal violence, the proportion rose to 13% for those who were separated or divorced from a spouse or common-law partner and had contact with that person in the previous five years.
So it may be that, once exposed to DV, adults tend to make better choices later about with whom to form a romantic partnership.
Among the 19% of incidents in which the police were called, only 29% resulted in charges being filed.
Most victims of spousal violence for whom the police had been made aware of the abuse reported that no charges had been laid against their partner or ex-partner (71%).
Given that men and women together reported 760,000 victimizations in the previous five years, there were fewer than 42,000 cases in which charges were filed during the same time, i.e. about 8,000 per year. In a nation of 36 million people, that strikes me as a pretty modest figure. Surprisingly, the police seem to respond more temperately than we might have expected.
Similarly, in just 11% of cases was a restraining order issued against the perpetrator of the abuse. That would come to about 83,000 TRO’s issued over the five-year period or roughly 16,600 per year. Unsurprisingly, female victims (19%) were far more likely than male victims (5%) to receive a TRO. Unfortunately, Stats Canada doesn’t report how many restraining orders were sought, so we don’t know the respective success rates of obtaining an order for men and women.
Equally unsurprising are the dramatically different data for male and female victims seeking services for their DV victimization. The almost complete absence of those services for male victims resulted in few male victims receiving any form of help. Indeed, the only help they received in any significant numbers was what they could get themselves without the assistance of the DV establishment.
Here’s the chart that explains what I mean:
Notice that some 18% of male victims went to a counsellor, psychologist or social worker for help. But barely visible percentages received assistance from a crisis help line (3%) or a support group (2%). As to the other types of help for victims of domestic violence, men received none because, almost invariably, there are none on offer. Yes, 55% of victims of DV over the previous five years were male, but there are no shelters for them. Canada might want to consider revising its priorities regarding DV.
There’s more good news on the DV front involving gay men and lesbian women. For them, reports of DV are down even more sharply than for the population generally.
The proportion of individuals identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual who reported spousal violence in 2014 was markedly lower than what was reported in 2004.Note 26 In 2004, 21%E of those who reported that they were homosexual reported having been the victim of spousal violence during the previous 5 years—a proportion almost 3 times as high as what was reported in 2014.
That level came down to 8% in 2014. That’s still twice the rate of DV for intimate partners generally, but it’s still a huge drop. As in years past, lesbians made up the lion’s share of abusers among gays and lesbians. A still-high 11% of those identifying as lesbian reported experiencing violence at the hands of a partner. Oddly, the Stats Canada report offered no data for gay male DV.
In short, the good news is that DV is down, people generally deal with their incidents themselves and the response by the police (when they’re called) isn’t as draconian as it’s been in the past. The bad news is that Stats Canada insists that men and women are abused equally when in fact far more men are victimized than are women. And of course the almost entire absence of services or facilities for male victims continues to cry out for reform.
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