Impact on Canadians
Violence against women and girls affects all of us. It weakens the fabric of our society and takes a heavy toll on individuals, families and communities.
The health costs for injuries and chronic health problems caused by such abuse are in the billions. So too are the costs to the justice system, to employers and businesses, and to social and community services.
There are also enormous social costs that have ripple effects throughout society. Long-term impacts of violence on women's physical and psychological health can result in their inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children. Children may suffer long-term emotional, behavioural and developmental problems that can even lead them to be violent later in life.
A recent study by Justice CanadaFootnote 1 estimates the economic impact of one form of violence, spousal violence, to be about $7.4 billion a year, with the costs of spousal violence against women making up $4.8 billion of this total.
The $7.4 billion total includes costs to:
- Victims. Some $6.0 billion in costs associated with victims seeking medical attention, lost wages, damaged or destroyed property and the “intangibles” of pain and suffering and loss of life.
- Third parties. Over $890 million in third party costs, including social service operating costs, losses to employers, the negative impact on children exposed to spousal violence, and other government expenditures.
- Justice system costs. About $545 million in costs borne by the criminal justice system (i.e., police, court, prosecution, legal aid and correctional services) and civil justice system (i.e., civil protection orders, divorces and separations and child protection systems).
Costs by who pays
Intangible costs make up most of the economic impact of spousal violence (74.1%), followed by tangible costs (22.8%) and the lost future income of children who witness the violence (3.1%).
Tangible costs can be further broken down by who actually pays: the state (63.8%), individuals, including victims (29.4%), or the private sector (6.9%).
Another costing studyFootnote 2 found that women leaving abusive relationships trigger about $6.9 billion in annual direct and indirect costs to individuals, organizations and society as a whole.
For information on key indicators on the prevalence and severity of violence against women; the various risk factors and impacts of violence; and criminal justice and social responses, consult Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistics Trends.
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