Assault in Canada: How Common Is It?

Assault in Canada: How Common Is It?

Content Warning: This article deals with sensitive subject matter around the topic of sexual abuse.

 

No matter where you live, there is no society that is immune to violence. While Canada is known worldwide for being a relatively safe and tolerant place to live, gender-based harassment and assault are still highly prevalent. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, sexual assault is the only form of violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Since 1999, rates of sexual assault have remained relatively unchanged, while rates of robbery and physical assault have gone down. This is sobering information, and the statistics surrounding it are somewhat shocking.

It has always been difficult to accurately collect data regarding rates of assault because only roughly 6% of incidents in Canada are reported to police. The discrepancy between reports and reality is huge. It is known that 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

There are many misunderstandings when it comes to this information. From television and movies, many are led to believe that abusers are strangers. In fact, most sexual assaults are committed by someone close to the victim, with 80% of incidents occurring in one’s home, with the abuser being friends or family. This, coupled with the fact that 60% of victims are under the age of 17, paints a grim picture. Further, when allegations are made in politics and against public figures, victims are often portrayed as making fraudulent claims in seeking attention. The truth is that only 2-4% of sexual assaults reported are false reports.

Sexual assault falls under the category of gender-based violence, with the majority of offenders being men, and the majority of victims being women. However, it is a common misconception that men are never the victimized. 15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 16. A majority of studies confirm that an estimated 5-10% of males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. When it comes to data, accuracy becomes even more difficult. According to Hope 24/7, “the majority of men fail to report their victimization due to social stigma, thus skewing the prevalence of these crimes and often leading to the false conclusion that male sexual victimization is rare.”

While it may be hard to hear or read about these horrific facts, information is power. Understanding the prevalence of abuse can lead to many important conclusions. Survivors are less likely to feel alienated, and more likely to have resources at their disposal, funding can be put toward research and prevention, and culture can change. At Share Lawyers, it is our hope that awareness will lead to positive shifts and a safer society.

 

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