Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Terrifying view of domestic violence

1.2 million victims

By SARAH GREEN, TORONTO SUN   More than 1.2 million Canadians -- including 549,000 men -- were victims of domestic violence from 1994 to 1999, a Statistics Canada survey says.

But the 690,000 women who reported abuse in their marriages or common-law relationships suffered more severe forms of violence, including being choked, beaten, sexually assaulted or threatened with a knife or gun.

The men who were victims of domestic violence during the five-year period were more likely to report having been hit, kicked, bitten, slapped, or had something thrown at them.

The survey, released yesterday, painted a terrifying picture of domestic violence -- fuelled often by alcohol and emotional abuse -- witnessed by at least 500,000 children.

FEARED FOR HER LIFE

Kids were nearly twice as likely to see violence against their mothers than their fathers and, in 53% of cases, the woman suffered an attack or threat so severe she feared for her life.

About 40% of all women in violent unions were physically injured in domestic assaults, compared with 13% of men.

"It's very discouraging and it's very frightening," said Pamela Cross, legal director of METRAC, an advocacy group for victims.

The 1999 survey also showed a decline in spousal violence against women to 8% from 12%, compared with a 1993 report.

But Cross warned the telephone survey results should be considered with "an abundance of caution" because women in abusive relationships often don't report violence.

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