Assault Statistics in Canada

October 29, 2018

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

Canada is considered a safe and tolerant place to live. However, gender-based violence, harassment and assault are highly prevalent despite this notion. According to the , sexual assault is the only form of violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Since 1999, rates of sexual assault have remained moderately unchanged, while rates of other violent crimes such as robbery and physical assault have gone down.

Collecting has always been challenging, due in large part to the fact that roughly 6% of assaults in Canada are reported to police. The discrepancy between reported cases and actual occurrences is tremendous. It is widely acknowledged that 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

Portrayals of sexual assault in film and television have created the false notion that most sexual assault is perpetrated by strangers. In fact, most assaults are committed by someone close to the victim, with 80% of incidents occurring in the home at the hands of friends or family members. It’s estimated that approximately 60% of victims of assault are under the age of 17.

“The rates of assault in Canada and North America as a whole are shocking figures,” says Wendy Share, Executive Director at Share Lawyers. “When we consider these statistics in conjunction with the current climate around reporting assault, it’s hard to question the reluctance of survivors to come forward.”

In recent months especially, allegations against public figures and those in politics are often dismissed as fraudulent, with the survivors being written off as attention seekers. Only 2-4% of reported sexual assaults are false.

While the majority of survivors are women, it is a common misconception that men cannot be survivors of assault. It is estimated that 15% of survivors are boys under the age of 16, and studies confirm that an estimated 5-10% of males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. However, the accuracy of this data is hard to determine. According to , “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 these statistics are horrific, knowledge is power. And as we speak more frequently and more publically about these facts of assault, we will, in turn, create an environment where survivors are less likely to feel alienated. We can create more resources for survivors to utilize, more funding can be put towards research and prevention, and the culture, albeit slowly, can start to change. At Share Lawyers, it is our hope that awareness will lead to positive shifts and a safer society.

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