Indigenous women experience dramatically higher rates of violent victimization than non-Indigenous women do. Violence within the domestic context is the most pervasive form of victimization experienced by Indigenous women.
- Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Indigenous women in Canada reported having been assaulted by a current or former spouse, compared to 7% of non-Indigenous women. Results from some studies suggest that this figure may be as high as 90% in some Indigenous communities.
- Indigenous women consistently report a rate of partner violence much higher than their non-Indigenous counterparts. For instance, while living common law is associated with a 13 percent greater risk of victimization for non-Indigenous women, the associated risk for Indigenous women is 217 percent higher.
- Sexual assault against women is particularly prevalent in Northern Canada where there is a much higher proportion of Indigenous people in each of the territories than in the provinces. In 2002, the rate of sexual assault in Nunavut was 96.1 for every 10,000 people compared to the overall rate in Canada of 7.8 in every 10,000 people.
- Indigenous women have also been found to be greatly over-represented as sex trade workers compared to non-Indigenous women. The overwhelming majority of these women reported both a history of childhood sexual abuse by multiple perpetrators and a history of rape and other assaults while working as prostitutes.
- Family members and survivors of violence experience multigenerational and intergenerational trauma and marginalization in the form of poverty, insecure housing or homelessness and barriers to education, employment, health care and cultural support.
- The colonial and patriarchal policies displaced women from their traditional roles in communities and governance and diminished their status in society, leaving them vulnerable to violence.
- Indigenous women face life-threatening, gender-based violence, and disproportionately experience violent crimes because of hatred and racism. Indigenous women were nearly three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to report being a victim of a violent crime; this was true regardless of whether the violence was perpetrated by a stranger or by a spouse.
- National homicide rate for Indigenous women is at least seven times higher than for non-Indigenous women.
- There are also a greatly disproportionate number of Indigenous women and girls among long-term missing persons cases—cases where the reasons for the individual’s disappearance and their eventual fate remain undetermined.
According to Statistics Canada:
- Indigenous women 15 years and older are 3.5 times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women.
- Rates of spousal assault against Indigenous women are more than three times higher than those against non-Indigenous women.
- Nearly one-quarter of Indigenous women experienced some form of spousal violence in the five years preceding the 2004 GSS. Statistics Canada reported that Indigenous women are more likely to experience more severe and potentially life-threatening forms of family violence than non-Indigenous women.
- 54% of Indigenous women reported severe forms of family violence, such as being beaten, being choked, having had a gun or knife used against them, or being sexually assaulted, versus 37% of non-Indigenous women.
- 44% of Indigenous women reported “fearing for their lives” when faced with severe forms of family violence, compared with 33% of non-Indigenous women.
- 27% of Indigenous women reported experiencing 10 or more assaults by the same offender, as opposed to 18% of non-Indigenous women.
- While the number of non-Indigenous women reporting the most severe forms of violence declined from 43% in 1999 to 37% in 2004, the number of similar attacks against Indigenous women remained unchanged at 54% during the same time period.
Indigenous women have been left extremely vulnerable through both social and economic factors. Violence against Indigenous women often goes unreported and unpunished. It affects Indigenous women from all age groups, religions and socio-economic classes.
If you are experiencing violence in your relationship, Nova Vita is here to help. Our Crisis and Support Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To connect with a crisis counsellor:
Online Chat Service click here
Additional Indigenous Support Services: