A Statistics Canada report assessing health and social challenges associated with COVID-19 in Canada supports concerns that living in forced close quarters could increase instances of domestic violence.
According to the report, police reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) in 2018.
Experts have feared that COVID-19 will cause more cases of domestic violence as individuals spend more time with each other in social isolation, and Statistics Canada notes in its report that some some Canadians, especially women and children, face a higher risk of domestic violence.
While the report does not quantify the risk, it highlights some relevant numbers and concepts, starting with the definition of what the experts call IPV. It includes violent offences that occur between current and former legally married spouses, common-law partners, boyfriends and girlfriends and other kinds of intimate partners.
According to the report, most police-reported cases of IPV have happened in a dwelling occupied by both the victim and the accused, with women accounting for eight in 10 victims.
The report also finds some 18,965 children suffered at the hands of a family member in 2018. In 59 per cent of cases, children were victimized by one of their own parents, who most often lived in the same residence.
It is important to note that both numbers — the numbers of reported cases of IPV and victimized children — do not capture any incidents that have gone unreported and therefore represent an incomplete picture of the situation.
Chief Const. Del Manak of the Victoria Police Department said late last month that police have been seeing a jump in domestic calls linked to the virus. RCMP Const. Maury Tyre, meanwhile, says that has not been the case in Campbell River.
“We have responded to more disputes where families are arguing regarding COVID-19,” Manak said. “For example, one family member is not taking the provincial health officer’s recommendations seriously in terms of social distancing and the other family member is frustrated.”
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