About intimate partner violence

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines intimate partner violence as behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours. This definition covers violence by both current and former spouses and partners. Intimate partner violence in all forms is unacceptable. Everyone has the right to live in safety and with dignity, free from intimidation and the threat of violence.

While 80 percent of survivors of intimate partner violence tell family or friends of their situation, only 30 percent report the abuse to the police.

Who is affected by intimate partner violence

Anyone can experience domestic violence, regardless of age, race, economic status, religion, sexual orientation or education.

While men can experience intimate partner violence, women experience it at a higher rate. Eight out of ten people who experience intimate partner violence are women or girls.

Experiences of violence can have short and long-term consequences on a survivor’s physical and mental health.

The following effects have been linked to victims of sexual and physical violence:

  • mental health and substance abuse challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder, ongoing anxiety, depression, distress and eating orders
  • financial or economic insecurity
  • homelessness
  • physical pain such as chronic stomach aches or traumatic brain injuries

Ultimately, a survivor’s academic, professional and social life can suffer, limiting their ability to realize their full potential.

Women and children with intersectional identities may be at greater risk of intimate partner violence. For example, Indigenous women are 3 times more likely to experience violent victimization than non-Indigenous women and are 2.5 times more likely to experience spousal violence (Statistics Canada statcan.gc.ca).

Get help for yourself or someone you think may be experiencing intimate partner violence

If you have experienced, or are experiencing intimate partner violence, or think someone you know may be experiencing intimate partner violence, you can get help by:

Find resources to get help.

Do you need help with hiding your internet searches about gender-based violence supports?

If you are concerned that someone may be monitoring you, it is helpful to know how to hide your Internet activities.

Find out how to hide your internet activity.