Seven per cent of women reported suffering through a current or previous abusive spousal relationship between 1999 and 2004, according to Statistics Canada. The highest rates of abuse were found in young women aged 15 to 24, specifically those in relationships of three years or less.
Dating violence among Canadian university and community college undergraduate students is far too common. In 1993, Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) stated that students in college and university are more likely to be involved in a coercive relationship.
Though women are more likely to report abuse than men, the 1990 General Social Survey organized by Statistics Canada also pointed out that the portion of violence against men in spousal relationships is almost equal. Despite the equality in numbers, the severity of violence against women tends to be higher than violence against men.
Abuse in relationships are not necessarily limited to physical abuse; they can also come in emotional and psychological forms. Most forms of abuse are difficult to detect. These types of abuse don’t take any physical form, but still have effects as painful as a physical wound. Emotional and psychological abuse festers within an individual and can cause long-term harmful effects.
In a more recent survey, Statistics Canada claims that almost 23,000 incidents of dating violence were reported to police in 2008. Of all violent crimes, dating violence represented seven per cent in 2008, and 28 per cent of all intimate partner violence.
It is easy for an individual from an outside perspective to ask someone in an abusive relationship, why would you stay in it? It is a little more complicated than just walking away.
Fourth-year McMaster commerce student Samantha Cowie believes that “even in relationships that might not be abusive, women tend to deny situations that are occurring by making up excuses for their boyfriend or partner and stay in the relationship in hopes of changing that individual.” No matter how severe or how long-term, the victim is often under the impression that the abusive partner cares for them despite their violent behaviour. Or, the victim might be afraid to leave in fear of what might happen to them if they do.
Additionally, the abuse may have been occurring for such a long period of time that it begins to seem normal.
Every relationship is unique, but victims of abuse generally find it more difficult to exercise their own free will when making decisions. To help victims, whether male or female, it is important for communities to offer somewhere safe and secure for victims to go.
In Hamilton, there is an annual event organized by the Sexual Assault Centre (SACHA) called Take Back the Night. It occurs every September and allows women and children in the area to gather together and stand up against violence.
Events such as Take Back the Night provide women, and even men, in any kind of detrimental relationship the support to improve their life through building new and healthy relationships.