Violence Against Women

Domestic violence is the use of power and control within an intimate relationship that threatens a person’s well-being. It’s not always physical abuse. It can be mental, verbal, emotional, financial or sexual abuse. It affects all ages, both sexes, and people from all socioeconomic levels—the rich, the middle-class, and the poor. It is an epidemic affecting women in all communities.

1 in 3

women have experienced violence in their lifetime


shelters for abused women in Canada


shelters for abused women in the United States

Statistics from the World Health Organization

  • Violence against women, particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence, are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights
  • Recent global prevalence figures indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime
  • Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner
  • Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, and may increase vulnerability to HIV

Shelters for abused women in Canada, 2010: Highlights 

  • In 2010, there were 593 shelters for abused women operating in Canada, 24 more than in 2008, the last time this information was collected. Large increases were noted in the number of second-stage housing facilities (up 11% or 11 shelters) and transition homes (up 8% or 22 facilities).
  • The number of beds available to clients of shelters also increased. On April 15, 2010, there were 11,461 beds available in shelters across Canada, an increase of 7% from two years earlier.
  • Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010 there were over 64,500 admissions of women to shelters across Canada, up 5% from 2007/2008. Almost one-third (31%) of these women had stayed at the shelter before, up from one-quarter (25%) in 2007/2008.
  • Among women staying in transition homes and other shelters on April 15, 2010, abuse was among the most common reasons for admissions (71%). Among abused women, most (67%) were looking for shelter from current partners, and most (60%) had not reported the abuse to police.
  • One-quarter (25%) of all shelters reported serving an on-reserve population, and 64% of all shelters reported offering services sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal clients.
  • Few women in shelters report the abuse to police. Respondents reported that for most abused women (6 in 10) residing in shelters on April 15, 2010; the incident which brought them there was not reported to police. Similarly, respondents reported that 27% of the incidents that brought women into shelters resulted in formal charges being laid, and 26% resulted in the imposition of a restraining order or similar undertaking against the abuser.

Stats of abused women and children in Ontario as per the The Ontario Women’s Directorate (OWD) website:

  • Spousal violence has been consistently identified as one of the most common forms of violence against women in Canada.
  • Educational attainment has no bearing on women’s risk of spousal violence
  • Income also has no effect on women’s risk of spousal violence 
  • Over 1 in 10 women report experiencing spousal violence while pregnant (2009) more likely to witness violence when the spousal victim is female
  • Women fleeing abuse often are faced with applying to OW (Ontario Works - commonly referred to as welfare) for the first time.
  • Accepting OW may be needed if they relied on their spouse/abuser for financial support
  • Women may have to end employment if unsafe to remain
  • If savings/investments/assets are in the name of the abuser, then funds cannot be accessed immediately
  • If a family needs to turn to social assistance, the following amounts are roughly what they would expect to receive (Rates as of Oct/Nov 2015): 
    • A single person with no children would receive up to: $680
    • Parent with 1 child: $1062
    • Parent with 2 children: $1226
    • Child Support would not begin immediately if at all. Child support if awarded would be deducted from OW cheque.

Expenses for replacement of clothing, personal items and furniture.

If women do not have family or friends to help, they often leave home to go into shelter with only a bag or 2 of belongings. They are forced to leave their family’s personal effects behind. This includes children's toys, crafts, photo albums, beds and cribs, all of which must be replaced.

Items are left behind due to many reasons: 

  • Leaving as a result of an assault
  • Leaving is often unplanned
  • Leaving while spouse is at work

Added Challenges:

  • Women may not have a car; traveling by bus or taxi with their children to shelter. 
  • Shelters do not offer storage, and usually have a bag limit.
  • Women may be able to return to their homes safely with a police escort to remove belongings, however the police cannot commit to a time to meet at the home and time is limited to an average of 20 minutes for all items to be removed. This makes it difficult and costly to arrange for movers.

Example of costs facing a family as they transition back into the community:

Average rent according to CMHC (October 2014-2015)


One Bedroom

Two Bedroom







Thunder Bay






Other Expenses

  • Basic phone Price: $30.00 
  • Basic Cable: $25.00 (Connection fees extra)
  • Internet: $45.00 average


  • Adult cash each way: $3.25 
  • Metro pass Adult: $141.50 
  • Metro Pass student: $112.00 
  • Student one way: $2.00 

To decrease expenses families often forced to make difficult choices:

  • Access food banks 
  • No cable 
  • No internet 
  • No cell phone
  • No car or transit pass
  • Not going to the dentist