SASKATCHEWAN – A recent report from Statistics Canada notes that since 2016, the rate of police-reported violence against men and boys in Canada has increased by 12 per cent. The largest increase is found in the age group of men 45 years and older, which increased by 22 per cent. The report cites information and data collected in a Jurisat article ‘Victimization of men and boys in Canada, 2021’.
As the findings relate to Saskatchewan, the violence is highest in rural areas, the Prairies and territories. Overall, the rate of police-reported violence against men and boys in 2021 was 1.5 times higher in rural areas compared to urban (1,438 per 1000,000 male population as compared to 936). These facts come as no surprise to Crystal Giesbrecht, Director of Research and Communications with the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan
“We do see violent victimization generally, as well as other types of violence like intimate partner and family violence, increasing in recent years,” she said. “This is just sort of the trend that we have been seeing.”
Boys aged 11 and younger made up the largest proportion of males victimized by a family member (59 per cent) with three-quarters of them being victimized by a parent.
“When intimate partner violence is going on in the home, it’s not only the primary adult victim, but the children are harmed as well,” Giesbrecht said, noting that children are being harmed by what they’re exposed to seeing. This can be observing caregivers acting violently against each other, being victims of abuse, or stepping into a conflict.
However, Giesbrecht noted women continue to make up the majority of victims when it comes to intimate partner violence.
“Women are being killed in their homes by people who are supposed to love them,” she said.
Many forms of abuse in general are not even reported, or don’t fit into a category leading to criminal code offences.
“If it’s emotional and psychological abuse, coercive control, economic control - these are not things that there’s usually a legal remedy for,” Giesbrecht explained.
“Overwhelmingly, victims are women and perpetrators are men,” she said of intimate partner violence. “But when you look at children, it’s split between boys and girls bother being killed in the context of domestic violence.”
Giesbrecht noted that many nuances are missed in reports such as the one from Statistics Canada, but adding these key pieces is something anticipated to be gathered in future statistics.
“I hope in the coming years, we’ll have a better understanding of what the difference between intimate partner violence that people of different genders are experiencing,” Giesbrecht said. “And also the gender of their partners.”
Added to this is the reluctance or inability of people in rural areas to report the violence they’re experiencing, sometimes due to stereotypes. Giesbrecht pointed to research she participated in with Resolve Saskatchewan that focused on females experiencing intimate partner violence in rural Saskatchewan.
“Something that came out strongly was attitudes that excused violence, people that not always receive helpful and supportive responses from people in their community,” she said.
Ultimately, continuing the conversation on violence in general and challenging those false attitudes is key to finding a solution.
“The awareness piece is important, also it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ model,” Giesbrecht said. “What we really need is an array of support so that people have a few options depending on the risk that they’re facing and what they want to do.”
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