Shelters for abused women 2003/04

Monday, July 26 2010
June 15, 2005: Nearly one-third of all women who had sought temporary accommodation in a shelter for abused women on April 14, 2004 had stayed there at some time during the past, according to a new report.


On this date, there were 3,274 women and 2,835 children in such shelters, 82% of them were escaping abuse. The remaining women and children were there for other reasons such as housing, addictions and mental health issues.


Of all women who had stayed in shelters previously, 40% had been there once in the previous year, 38% had been there two to four times, and about 1 in 10 had been to the facility five times or more during the previous year.


The largest proportion of women staying in shelters, just over one-third, were between 25 and 34 years old.


The report is based on data from the Transition Home Survey, a biennial census of residential facilities that provide shelter to female victims of domestic violence. The survey provided information on the facilities and their services for the full year between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004, as well as a one-day snapshot of activities and clients served on April 14, 2004.


During the year-long period, admissions to 473 shelters, largely for reasons of abuse, totalled 95,326 - 58,486 women and 36,840 children. Total annual admissions for 2003/04 were down 7% from the previous survey two years earlier, and 11% lower from the total in 1997/98.


However, the declines were due largely to decreases in annual admissions of children, which were down 12% from 2001/02 and 21% lower compared with 1997/98. Annual admissions for women declined by about 3% from 2001/02 following a 3% decrease from 1997/98 to 2001/02.


On snapshot day, one-fifth or 93 of all shelters referred 221 women and 112 children elsewhere. About two-thirds of these shelters reported referring women and children elsewhere because the shelter was full, a decline from previous years. Other reasons for turning away people included drug and alcohol issues, mental health issues or because the person was on a caution or "non-admit" list.


Snapshot day: 5,000 women and children stayed in shelters to escape abuse


According to the one-day survey snapshot, taken on April 14, 2004, of the 6,109 women and children residing in shelters, about 5,000 had escaped an abusive situation representing about three-quarters of all women residing in shelters. Women also turned to shelters for other reasons such as problems with housing, addictions and mental health.


The vast majority of the women staying in shelters to escape abuse were fleeing psychological or emotional abuse. Almost 7 out of 10 reported physical abuse, 50% threats, 46% financial abuse, 31% harassment and 27% sexual abuse.


Two-thirds of women fleeing domestic violence went to shelters to escape the abuse of a current spouse or common-law partner and 1 in 10 to escape an abusive ex-spouse or ex-partner. Women were also fleeing abuse from relatives (6%), current or former dating partners (5%), and others such as a friend, caregiver or authority figure (4%). For a small percentage of abused women the relationship to their abuser was unknown.


Survey data indicate that more women are seeking temporary accommodation in shelters for reasons other than abuse. These include housing problems, drug and alcohol addiction, and mental health issues.


While the number of women seeking shelter to escape abuse was virtually unchanged from 1998, the number in shelters for other reasons increased 11%.


Women using shelters for reasons other than to escape abuse constituted about one-quarter (24%) of shelter residents. Over two-thirds of these women sought shelter because they were unable to find affordable housing.


Seven out of 10 women with parenting responsibilities brought their children with them to shelters. Children accounted for about half of shelter residents and two-thirds of these children were under the age of 10.


About one in three abused women in shelters on snapshot day had reported their most recent abusive incident to police.


Nearly two-thirds of women leaving shelters did not plan to return to their spouse or partner


Among women who left such shelters on snapshot day, only 1 in 10 planned to return to their spouse or common-law partner.


Nearly two-thirds of women did not intend to return to their spouse or partner. It was unknown where a quarter of the departing women intended to reside.


Shift in the types of shelters providing refuge to abused women and their children


Between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004, there were 543 known shelters in Canada providing residential services to abused women and their children. While transition homes still constituted the majority of shelters providing refuge to women fleeing domestic violence, emergency-type facilities formed a growing proportion of shelters serving abused women.


More than half of the 473 facilities reporting to the survey during this year were transition homes. About one-fifth were second-stage houses and another one-fifth were emergency-type shelters (including women's emergency centres and general emergency shelters).


The remainder included other types of facilities such as safe home networks, Rural Family Violence Prevention Centres (Alberta), Interim Housing (Manitoba), and Family Violence Resource Centres (Ontario).


Of all shelters reporting to the survey 31, or about 7%, were located on a reserve. Less than half of these shelters were transition homes and over one-third were emergency-type facilities. About one in six on-reserve shelters were second-stage houses.


On snapshot day, there were 170 women and children in shelters on reserves, representing nearly 3% of all shelter residents. About 8 out of 10 (135) of these women and children staying in on-reserve shelters were fleeing abuse. The majority of shelters offered the following in-house services to women residents: advocacy, individual short-term counselling, and housing referral. Services to former residents and non-resident women in need of assistance often included: crisis telephone lines, individual short-term counselling and advocacy.


Almost 5% of shelters offered in-house treatment or counselling services to non-resident, abusive partners and more than one-in-three shelters referred partners to other agencies for counselling.


Overall, 4% of shelters had policies that permitted the admission of adult men. Between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004, 47 men were admitted to shelters for abuse and 9 out of 10 of these men stayed in shelters to escape domestic violence related abuse.


Note to readers:   This release is based on the Juristat, "Canada's Shelters for Abused Women, 2003/04", that presents results from the biennial Transition Home Survey (THS).


The THS is a census of all residential facilities that provide shelter primarily to female victims of domestic violence. For the 2003/04 THS, 543 shelters were contacted and responses were received from 473 or 87%. Separate questionnaires were completed for facilities that had multiple types of residences under the same name or address.


The THS was developed under the federal government's Family Violence Initiative in consultation with provincial/territorial governments and transition home associations. The objectives of the survey are to collect information on residential services for abused women and their children during the previous 12 months of operation, as well as to provide a one-day snapshot of the clients being served on a specific day.


Trend analysis is based on time-series data from the THS Trend File, which includes only facilities that consistently reported to the survey each year from 1997/98 to 2003/04. Therefore, information from the THS Trend File is based on a subset of 332 shelters.


The Juristat: Canada's Shelters for Abused Women, 2003/04, Vol. 25, no. 3 (85-002-XIE, $9/$75; 85-002-XPE, $11/$100) is now available. The product Transition Homes in Canada: National, Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets, 2003/04 (85-404-XIE, free) is now available online. From the Our products and services page, choose Free publications, then Justice.


For more information, or to enquire about concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

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