Canada: Focus on same sex domestic violence

Canada: Focus on same sex domestic violence

The Canadian National Clearinghouse on Domestic Volence has focussed on same sex domestic violence in its latest ebulletin:

Fast Facts

Spousal Abuse among Same-Sex Partners

According to Statistics Canada:

The 2004 General Social Survey on Victimization1 found that while the overall proportion of those who experienced spousal violence and who indicated that they were gay or lesbian was low, the rate of spousal violence reported between same-sex couples was twice the rate of violence between heterosexual couples (15%2 versus 7%).

Analysis of a 10-year police-reported linked file3, showed that 2.5% of police-reported incidents of spousal violence occurred between same-sex couples. The proportion of these incidents in which the couples were gay males was two-and-a-half times that of lesbian couples (72% versus 28%). Note that these data may undercount the prevalence of violence between same-sex couples as police may code the relationship as something other than current or ex-spouse (e.g., boyfriend or girlfriend).

Seventy percent (70%) of spousal incidents between same-sex couples reported to police between 1995 and 2004 were single incidents, compared to 62% among heterosexual couples. Heterosexual couples are at slightly increased risk of repeated spousal abuse (33% versus 27%) and chronic abuse (5% versus 4%) compared to same-sex couples.
Statistics Canada. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2005 and Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2006 (Cat. No.85-224-XIE)

1 The results of the survey describe rates of violence committed against those who self-identified as gay/lesbian, but does not distinguish the sexual orientation of the perpetrator.
2 Use with caution, coefficient of variation is high (16.6% to 33.3%).
3 The composite data file linked all spousal violence incidents reported to selected police services over a 10-year period, from 1995 to 2004.


Feature Article

The Woman to Woman Abuse Initiative

From 2004-2007, Status of Women Canada’s Women’s Program funded the Woman to Woman Abuse Initiative, a project of The Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. This project worked with women affected by woman-to-woman abuse, service providers and organizations to create a better understanding of same-sex partner violence, and to affect positive change in policies, programs and services.

As a result of the Woman to Woman Abuse Initiative:

Connections were made with service providers in the province of Saskatchewan regarding service availability for all women experiencing violence and abuse. Mail-outs initiated new contacts where none had existed before and facilitated referrals between agencies.
Some organizations changed their policies and procedures to reflect the diversity of the women with whom they work.
Posters and pamphlets are now available in many organizations.
Front-line workers have more and new skills to help the women who come to them for programming.
An enhanced understanding of same-sex abuse by women experiencing abuse and the general public was facilitated by establishing relationships with CBC Radio Regina and CBC TV Prince Albert. These media outlets were regularly updated on the project and other programs of the Centre.
Key connections were made at the STOPS to Violence, Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions to Violence Inc., provincial networking meetings.
Resources resulting from this project include:

workshop materials related to woman-to-woman abuse;
a poster detailing services for lesbians experiencing abuse; and
a brochure with the message: “You don’t deserve to be abused. Let us give Lesbian abuse the attention it deserves!”
These resources can be found on the Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity website at

Stephen Page, Harrington Family Lawyers, Brisbane 61(7) 3221 9544

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