A new report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP) is a painful reminder that domestic violence is a major social, criminal and public health issue that affects thousands of Canadians every day.
Based on work from a Social Science and Humanities Research Council grant developed jointly by Myrna Dawson, Director of University of Guelph’s Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, and Peter Jaffe, Academic Director of Western University’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children (CREVAWC), the report – titled One is Too Many: Trends and Patterns in Domestic Homicides in Canada 2010-2015 – explores hundreds of domestic homicides using public record information available from court decisions and media reports.
Specifically, the new CDHPIVP report focuses on four vulnerable populations who appear to be at greater risk of domestic homicide due to historical oppression and/or lack of access to resources because of isolation through various factors such as geography, language, culture, age and poverty. These four vulnerable populations are as follows:
1. Indigenous populations;
2. immigrant and refugee populations;
3. rural, remote, and northern populations; and
4. children killed in the context of domestic violence.
“Each of these populations experience factors that greatly enhance their vulnerability to domestic violence and homicide and exacerbate the negative mental and physical health consequences of violence,” says Dawson, who serves as CDHPIVP Co-Director. “These groups face greater challenges in finding services and safety.”
Key statistics and findings from One is Too Many: Trends and Patterns in Domestic Homicides in Canada 2010-2015 include:
• From 2010-2015 in Canada, there were 418 cases of domestic homicide involving 476 victims. There were 427 adult victims (90%) and 49 victims aged 17 and younger (10%).
• Females comprised 79 percent of the adult victims and males were 21 percent of adult victims. Among child victims, females represented 53 percent of the victims and males were 47 percent of victims.
• The majority of adult victims were 25 to 34 years of age (28%). The average age was 39 years. Among child victims, ages ranged from less than one year to 13 years old, with an average age of six years.
• There were 443 accused identified in the 418 cases of domestic homicide. The majority of accused were male (86%). Of the 443 accused, 21 percent committed suicide and another seven percent attempted suicide following the homicide.
• The majority of the accused were aged 25 to 34 years (25%) with an average age of 40 years.
• The majority of victims were in a current intimate relationship with the accused (61%) and 26 percent were separated or estranged.
• Among 61 percent of cases in which the victim and accused were in a current relationship, 21 percent had evidence that separation was imminent or pending. Of those, the majority involved female victims and male accused (91%).
• Thirty-seven children were killed within the context of the domestic homicide; 70 percent were biological children of the victim and/or accused and 24 percent involved stepchildren.
• In the 418 cases, 13 percent involved the homicide of third parties, such as family members, neighbours, new partners, or other bystanders.
• When information was known, most victims died as a result of stabbing (38%), following by shooting (24%), strangulation (11%) or beating (11%).
• Most victims were killed in the home that they shared with the accused (44%), in their own home (19%), or the home of the accused (10%).
• Second-degree murder was the most common initial charge laid (50%) followed by first degree murder charges (37%), manslaughter charges (7%), and other charges related to the homicide (2%; e.g., criminal negligence causing death, accessory after the fact, failure to provide the necessities of life).
• There were 253 domestic homicide victims (53%) that were identified as belonging to one or more of the four populations being focused on in the CDHPIVP, including Indigenous, immigrant/refugee, and rural, remote and northern populations as well as children killed in the context of domestic violence.
Future CDHPIVP reports will help identify and inform priorities for future practice, policy, and research while the overall mission of CDHPIVP is to develop and implement more nuanced and appropriate population-specific, culturally-informed practices and policies.
“Our growing knowledge base needs to be translated into action in the field to support victims and service providers to assess and manage risk as well as promote safety planning,” says Jaffe, who also serves as CDHPIVP Co-Director. “The challenge across the country is realizing these goals for vulnerable populations in a manner that addresses existing inequities and increases access to resources and services.”
For more information, please contact the researchers.
Myrna Dawson can be contacted directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Jaffe can be contact at 519-661-2018 or vi email at email@example.com
MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, 519-520-7281 (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org, @jeffrenaud99
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