Partner Abuse, Volume 10, Number 2, 2019
199© 2019 Springer Publishing Company
http://d x.doi.or g/10.1891/ 10.2.
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate
Partner Violence in Canada as Measured by the
National Victimization Survey
Alexandra Lysova, PhD
School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia
Eugene Emeka Dim, MA
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Donald Dutton, PhD
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
National victimization surveys that conceptualize intimate partner violence
(IPV) as crime can contribute to a better understanding of the most severe
forms of victimization in the intimate partner relationship. Based on the 2014
Canadian General Social Survey on Victimization, this study examined the
prevalence of victimization resulted from physical and/or sexual IPV, control-
ling behaviors and also consequences of IPV for both men and women in a sam-
ple representative of the Canadian population. Given the paucity of research
on male victims of IPV at the national population level, this article specifically
discussed the experiences of men who reported violence perpetrated by their
female intimate partners. Results showed that 2.9% of men and 1.7% of women
reported experiencing physical and/or sexual IPV in their current relationships
in the last 5 years. In addition, 35% of male and 34% of female victims of IPV
experienced high controlling behaviors—the most severe type of abuse known
as intimate terrorism. Moreover, 22% of male victims and 19% of female victims
of IPV were found to have experienced severe physical violence along with high
controlling behaviors. Although female victims significantly more often than
male victims reported the injuries and short-term emotional effects of IPV (e.g.,
fear, depression, anger), there was no significant difference in the experience
200 Lysova et al.
of the most long-term effects of spousal trauma—posttraumatic stress disor-
der (PTSD)-related symptoms. This article argues that future research should
explain the increased gap in reporting of the IPV victimization among men com-
pared to women.
KEYWORDS: Canadian General Social Survey; intimate terrorism; PTSD-related
effects of IPV; male victimization
Intimate partner violence (IPV) remains a serious problem in Canada (Burczy-
cka, 2016, 2017; Sinha, 2013) and many other countries in the world (Desmarais,
Reeves, Nicholls, Telford, & Fiebert, 2012a, 2012b; World Health Organization, 2013).
National surveys provide a distinct opportunity to measure prevalence and conse-
quences of IPV using large representative samples. National victimization surveys
framed as crime studies are particularly relevant for collecting information on the
most serious types of intimate partner assaults compared to family conflict studies
(Straus, 1999). Moreover, findings based on crime studies provide a realistic basis for
programs designed to help the victims and prevent and stop specific types of IPV.
While IPV scholarship has traditionally focused on the experiences of female vic-
tims, it has recently shown increasing interest in examining men’s victimization
in intimate relationships (Carmo, Grams, & Magalhães, 2011; Hines, Brown, &
Dunning, 2007; McCarrick, Davis-McCabe, & Hirst-Winthrop, 2016; Morgan &
Wells, 2016). Criminological IPV-related research, however, appears to lag behind in
exploring men’s particular experiences of partner violence ( Stanko & Hobdell, 1993).
According to Walklate (2004, p. 77), “[M]uch victimological work implicitly leaves us
with the impression that victims are not likely to be male. It renders female victim-
ization visible and male victimization invisible.”
The “gender paradigm” conceptualization of IPV (with the focus on violence against
women; Dutton, 2010, 2011), men’s hesitation to disclose vulnerability due to shame
and strict norms of masculinity (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Goodey, 1997; Stanko & Hob-
dell, 1993), and higher rates of injury and overall more severe consequences of IPV for
women (Ellsberg, Jansen, Heise, Watts, & Garcia-Moreno, 2008; Tjaden & Thoennes,
2000) provide some explanation for the apparent invisibility of male victims of IPV
in the criminological research. In addition, findings that come from studies based on
clinical samples of battered women (Johnson, 2008) or surveys that focused on vio-
lence against women (Dobash, Dobash, Wilson, & Daly, 1992; Tjaden & Thoennes,
2000) create an impression that only a negligible number of men are abused by their
intimate partners and, if abused, the negative effects of IPV are minor.
Studies based on general population surveys (Breiding, 2014; Straus & Gelles,
1990) as well as those from meta-analyses (Archer, 2000a; Desmarais et al., 2012a)
have, however, suggested a similar prevalence of IPV among male and female
victims. Contrary to the notion of men as unlikely victims of severe violence, especially
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 201
in the context of coercive control (Johnson, 2006; Johnson & Leone, 2005), men have
been found to experience so-called “intimate terrorism (IT)” at a greater scale than
was previously argued (Hines & Douglas, 2010; Jasinski, Blumenstein, & Morgan,
2014). In addition, men have been found to experience considerable negative effects
from IPV, including anxiety and depression, serious injuries, and suicidal thoughts
(Brooks, Martin, Broda, & Poudrier, 2017; Coker et al., 2002; Hines & Douglas, 2011;
Randle & Graham, 2011). At the same time, male victims are typically less likely
than female victims to look for help and report incidences of IPV victimization to the
police (McCarrick et al., 2016). Although the current study examines victimization
experiences of both male and female victims of IPV in a recent national victimization
survey in Canada, it specifically discusses the experiences of IPV reported by men.
This study contributes to the IPV literature by drawing on a random sample of
33,000 Canadians surveyed in the 2014 Canadian General Social Survey on Victim-
ization (hereafter, GSS). Quantitative studies on IPV in Canada tend to employ the
1999 or 2004 GSS data (Ansara & Hindin, 2010; Brownridge, 2009, 2010; Daigneault,
Hebert, & McDuff, 2009; LaRoche, 2005; Romans, Forte, Cohen, Du Mont, & Hyman,
2007), as very little is known about the current realities of IPV, including compara-
tive aspects of the experience of IPV by gender in Canada. Also, there is a paucity of
national population-level research on the consequences of IPV with the focus on male
victims in Canada. First, our study will determine the prevalence of male and female
victimization from physical and sexual violence in the current partner relationships.
Since nonphysical forms of coercion and controlling behavior can be particularly dam-
aging for victims of IPV (e.g., Johnson, 2006; McFeely, Lombard, & Burman, 2013;
Pence & Paymar, 1993), the study will examine the experiences of emotional and
financial abuse against both partners. Given how essential the context of IPV is for
differentiating between types of IPV (Johnson, 2008; Myhill, 2017), we will use con-
trolling behavior for examining the different types of IPV experienced by male and
female partners. Then we will examine both short- and long-term effects of physical
IPV on men and women.
Prevalence of IPV Victimization
General population surveys of the incidence of domestic violence have found vic-
timization rates reported by males to be similar to those reported by females (e.g.,
Archer, 2000a; Desmarais et al., 2012a). On the 1985 National Family Violence Sur-
vey (NFVS), Stets and Straus (1990) reported any violence victimization rates of 7.6%
for men and 8.1% for women. Males and females reported initiating violence equally.
The U.S. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) found that
the annual prevalence of physical IPV victimization was 4.0% among women com-
pared to 4.7% among men. However, the annual prevalence of severe physical IPV
victimization was higher for women than men (2.7% and 2.0% respectively; Breiding,
202 Lysova et al.
Crime victimization surveys, especially those that focus on violence against women
tend to report that women are at significantly greater risk of IPV than men. The U.S.
Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which
focused on violence against women, estimated that the average annual rate of vic-
timization by intimate partners was 9.3 per 1,000 women aged 12 or older and 1.4
per 1,000 men aged 12 or older (Bachman & Saltzman, 1995). The data from the
U.S. National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998)
showed that of 8,000 men and 8,000 women surveyed, 22.1% of women and 7.4% of
men reported a physical assault by an intimate partner across the lifetime; 1.3% of
women and 0.9% of men reported a physical assault by a partner in the previous 12
months. In the 2001 British Crime Survey, 4% of women and 2% of men reported
being victims of nonsexual domestic threats or force in the 12 months prior to inter-
view, while 21% of women and 10% of men reported experiencing IPV in their lifetime
(Walby & Allen, 2004). This difference in gender rates on crime victimization and
general population surveys seems to stem from the respondents’ definition of assault
as a crime. Straus (1999) found that incidence rates increased when the “crime filter”
was removed from reporting criteria (which he ascribed to a “contextual message”
that the respondents should only report assaults resulting in criminal actions). Also,
the focus on “violence against women” may have prevented some men from revealing
their experiences of victimization (Dutton & Nicholls, 2005).
Statistics Canada (2000) attempted to overcome the under-detection of IPV in ear-
lier crime victim surveys. First, for the first time in 1999, Statistics Canada mea-
sured the prevalence of IPV in both men and women. Secondly, it did not “filter” or
discourage male victims from reporting their victimization by presenting the survey
as a study of victimization of women (as both NCVS and NVAWS did). Although the
overall prevalence of both male and female victims of IPV in current and former rela-
tionships declined between 1999 and 2014 (i.e., from 7% to 4.2% for male victims and
from 8% to 3.5% for female victims), the number of male victims of IPV was signif-
icantly higher than the number of female victims of IPV for the first time in 2014
(Bunge, 2000; Burczycka, 2016). At the same time, Statistics Canada does not pro-
vide a detailed breakdown of the percentages of male and female victims by specific
behaviors of physical and sexual IPV, which limits our understanding of the most
prevalent forms of IPV among male victims. The current study fills this gap. It also
extends analyses to other forms of abuse, including controlling behaviors, and to con-
sequences of IPV for both male and female victims.
Controlling behaviors emphasize the perpetrator’s motivation rather than the impact
such behaviors have on the victim. Controlling behaviors often include economic
deprivation, jealous and possessive behavior, insults and name-calling, threats, and
intimidation (Graham-Kevan, 2007). Studies on nonclinical samples found no differ-
ences in the overall use of controlling behaviors by men and women (Felson & Outlaw,
2007; Fitzpatrick, Salgado, Suvak, King, & King, 2004; Graham-Kevan & Archer,Pdf_Folio:202
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 203
2003; Stets, 1991; Straus, 2008). However, studies based on clinical samples often
suggest that nonphysical controlling behaviors are experienced disproportionately by
women at the hands of men (Myhill, 2015; Stark, 2007). Another study reported men
and women used different types of controlling behavior. For example, Hamby and
Sugarman (1999) found that men more frequently called their partners fat or ugly,
destroyed partner’s property, and made fun of their inability to do things. Women
more frequently insulted and swore at their partners, stomped off during a disagree-
ment, or shouted and yelled at them. Statistics Canada (2000) found that women were
more likely to report being subjected to emotional, threatening, intimidating, and eco-
nomic control. Also, the rates for isolating control were similar for men and women.
In summation, no consistent sex differences in the overall use of controlling behavior
have been found.
Context of IPV According to the Johnson’s Typology
Johnson (2008) has argued that there were at least two distinct forms of IPV: “IT” and
“situational couple violence (SCV).” These two types of relationship aggression dif-
fered mainly on the use of controlling behaviors. Perpetrators in the IT type attempt
to dominate one’s partner by using a wide range of power and control tactics, includ-
ing violence. Partners in the SCV type, however, are not believed to use physical
violence within a general control framework. Using cluster analysis, Johnson (2001)
categorized relationships involving physical aggression and found clear gender dif-
ferences; that is, IT is 97% male (3% of ITs are women) and SCV is only 56% male
(45% are females). An analysis by Johnson and Leone (2000), based on the data from
the NVAWS (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998) using only women’s reports, found a surpris-
ingly high number of ITs, with 35% of husbands’ violence being classified so. The
same NVAWS data, analyzed by Jasinski et al. (2014), revealed nearly equal rates of
male and female victims of IT (35% and 36% respectively). However, the effects of IT
were more serious and had greater consequences for female than male victims of IPV.
Drawing on the Canadian 1999 GSS data, LaRoche (2005) measured the prevalence
of IPV according to the Johnson’s typology and found that IT in the current relation-
ships was prevalent among 26% of female victims and 19% of male victims.
Consequences of IPV
Research based on police and hospital records consistently shows that women are
overwhelmingly the injured parties in domestic conflicts and report fear much more
often than male victims (Ibrahim, 2016; Sinha, 2013). Population survey studies, how-
ever, provide mixed findings regarding the severity of consequences of IPV for male
and female victims. Both genders reported physical and psychological consequences of
IPV victimization in the 1985 U.S. National Survey (Stets & Straus, 1990), although
these were more frequent for women. In his meta-analytic review, Archer (2000a)
found only a 1/6 of a standard deviation difference for female versus male injuries
from IPV. The U.S. NVAWS found that women who were physically assaulted by a
partner were significantly more likely than their male counterparts to report thatPdf_Folio:203
204 Lysova et al.
they sustained an injury, received medical treatment, or were hospitalized (Tjaden
& Thoennes, 2000). However, when the effects of physical violence were considered
along with the effects of psychological IPV during their lifetime, both genders suf-
fered long-term psychological consequences (depression, anxiety, substance abuse)
from IPV victimization (Coker et al., 2002). NVAWS data also show that compared to
nonvictims, male victims have poorer overall health (Pimlott-Kubiak & Cortina, 2003)
and more functional disabilities (Carbone-López, Kruttschnitt, & Macmillan, 2006).
Research shows that health problems for victims of severe IPV are much worse than
for victims of minor IPV and that this is true of both women (Follingstad, Brennan,
Hause, Polek, & Rutledge, 1991) and men (Hines, Brown, & Dunning, 2007; Hines &
DATA AND METHODS
The Canadian GSS (victimization) data of 2014 was employed for the analysis. Access
to the 2014 GSS (victimization) data was granted by the Simon Fraser Univer-
sity Research Data Center (SFU-RDC). The 2014 GSS surveyed a random sample
of 33,127 noninstitutionalized persons aged 15 years and older living in the 10
Canadian provinces. The survey employed a complex, multistage sampling design
(Statistics Canada, 2016). Respondents completed in-depth telephone interviews con-
cerning the nature and extent of their criminal victimization, including experiences of
IPV. The interviewer from Statistics Canada introduced the study as a crime-related
study that would help “better understand how safe people feel, what they think of
the justice system and their experiences of crime” (Statistics Canada, 2015, p. 15).
Although the initial framing of the IPV data collection was in the context of crime,
the preamble to the section on physical and sexual IPV presented it as “the seri-
ous problem of violence in the home” (Statistics Canada, 2015, p. 122). Questions to
measure emotional and financial abuse by spouse/partner were introduced as merely
“. . . a list of statements that some people have used to describe their spouse/partner”
(Statistics Canada, 2015, p. 118). Therefore, the design of the Canadian victimization
survey helps reduce the demand characteristics that account for “the extremely low
prevalence rate, the implausibly high injury rate, and the high ratio of male to female
assault [perpetrations]” on the traditional crime studies (Straus, 1999, p. 8).
Because this study concerned IPV in heterosexual relationships and the sex of
the intimate partner was identifiable only in the current relationships, we selected a
subsample of respondents using the inclusion criteria, that is, heterosexual respon-
dents who reported being in married/common-law relationships at the time of the
survey. On GSS, only respondents who reported being in married/common-law rela-
tionships were asked questions about IPV within the 5 years preceding the inter-
view. This brought the subsample down to about 44% of the total population (51% of
men).1According to the rules for the release of data at the RDC, all the results mustPdf_Folio:204
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 205
be weighted. Consequently, unweighted results and the model N sizes are prohibited
from being released from the RDC or published.2
Victimization.Physical violence was defined as behavior that threatens, attempts,
or actually inflicts physical harm. The measurement of physical, including sexual,
violence by Statistics Canada follows the revised version of the Conflict Tactics
Scales (CTS2; Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996). Physical (includ-
ing sexual) violence was created by using 11 binary items (i.e., yes/no) that asked
the respondents whether their spouses or partners: Threatened to hit you with their
fist? Threw anything at you that could have hurt you? Pushed/grabbed/shoved?
Slapped? Kicked/bit/hit? Hit with something that could have hurt? Beaten? Choked?
Used/threatened to use a gun/knife? Forced into any unwanted sexual activity? Forced
into sexual activity/not able to consent? The reliability of this scale using Cronbach’s
alpha was 0.78. If the respondent answered positively to at least one of the last seven
items, the acts of physical violence were classified as “severe violence” (Johnson &
Leone, 2005; LaRoche, 2005). Cronbach’s alpha for severe physical violence scale was
0.63. Additionally, we measured the frequency of physical victimization. Respondents
who disclosed at least one act of physical or sexual violence were asked whether their
partner had been violent on more than one occasion in the past 5 years. A dichoto-
mous variable was created for those who experienced violence once or more.
Controlling Behaviors. The emotional and financial abuse module included nine
binary items (i.e., yes/no) assessing various forms of abuse and control. No timeframe
was imposed for this module. For those reporting about a current partner, the items
were worded in the present tense. Respondents were asked if their current partner
perpetrated any of the following acts: Tries to limit contact with family or friends?
Puts you down/calls you names to make you feel bad? Jealousy/doesn’t want you to
talk to other men/women? Harms, or threatens to harm, someone close to you? Harms
or threatens to harm pet(s)? Demands to know who you are with/where you are? Dam-
ages/destroys possessions or property? The questions asked about economic control
were: Prevents you from having access to family income? Forces you to give money, pos-
sessions, or property? All the respondents who answered “Yes” to at least one of these
questions for emotional and financial abuse were coded as having experienced control-
ling behaviors, whereas those who answered “No” to all nine indicators were coded as
having experienced no controlling behaviors. The reliability of this scale using Cron-
bach’s alpha was estimated as 0.99. Consistent with previous studies (Jasinski et al.,
2014; Johnson & Leone, 2005;LaRoche, 2005), respondents were divided into cate-
gories of “low control” and “high control,” as respondents who answered “Yes” to two
or less of the control questions were grouped into the “low control” category while
those who answered “Yes” to three or more were categorized as “high control.”
Consequences of Victimization. Respondents who reported at least one incident
of victimization from physical or sexual violence in the past 5 years were asked
detailed questions about the injuries, emotional consequences and long-term impactPdf_Folio:205
206 Lysova et al.
of this violence. These items also had a binary response format (i.e., yes/no). To mea-
sure injuries, respondents were asked whether during incident/s they were ever phys-
ically injured in any way and received, for example, bruises, cuts, broken bones, or
other types of injury. To measure emotional reaction at the time of the IPV inci-
dent/s (emotional impact module), respondents were asked whether they felt angry;
upset/confused/frustrated; hurt/disappointed; depressed/ashamed/low self-esteem;
shock/disbelief ; or fearful/victimized/afraid for children. Finally, to measure the
long-term impact of IPV (spousal trauma module), for the first time in the 2014 GSS,
respondents were asked questions from the Primary Care posttraumatic stress dis-
order (PTSD) screening tool designed to assess the PTSD-related symptoms. Specif-
ically, they were asked whether in the past month they had nightmares about it or
thought about it when they did not want to; felt numb or detached from others, activi-
ties, or their surroundings; tried hard not to think about it or went out of their way to
avoid situations that reminded them of it; and felt constantly on guard, watchful, or
To examine the prevalence and consequences of IPV and the help-seeking behavior
by gender, we conducted descriptive analyses using cross-tabulations and unadjusted
odds ratios (ORs). To ensure that the sample was representative of the Canadian pop-
ulation and to account for the complex sampling design of the 2014 GSS, the results
in all analyses were weighted and bootstrapped using STATA 13 with the personal
and bootstrap weights provided by Statistics Canada. Any estimates that were based
on 10 or fewer responses were deemed unreliable and therefore were neither tested
for statistically significant differences between groups nor presented in the tables.
Logistic regression was used to generate ORs.
Characteristics of the Respondents
Men and women in the sample did not significantly differ on most of the sociodemo-
graphic and relationship variables. In other words, men and women were similar in
age, race, education level, place of residence, years lived together, and presence of
children in the household. The only difference between men and women in the sam-
ple was in relation to the personal income with three times as many men than women
earning $100,000 or more. At the same time, the household income did not signifi-
cantly differ between men and women in the sample.
Prevalence of Physical and Sexual IPV
The study found that men were significantly more likely than women to report being
victimized by a current heterosexual partner in the past 5 years. As Table 2 shows,
2.9% of the men and 1.7% of the women reported being physically and/or sexuallyPdf_Folio:206
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 207
TABLE 1. Sociodemographic and Relationship Characteristics of Men and
Women in the Subsample (44% of the Total Sample)
Age 91.6 .402
15–29 6.6 3.8
30–44 29.9 28.0
45–59 34.1 34.4
60–74 23.1 25.3
75+ 6.4 8.6
Race 2.16 .836
White 82.3 81.4
Non-White 17.7 18.6
Education 10.2 .887
High school 31.8 34.2
College 35.6 33.9
University 32.6 31.9
Personal income 1091.1 <.001
Below $40,000 59.9 33.0
$40,000–$99,999 34.2 48.5
Above $100,000 5.9 18.5
Below $40,000 10.2 10.3
$40,000–$99,999 42.9 41.5
Above $100,000 46.9 48.2
Place of residence 0.65 .886
Urban 83.3 83.8
Rural 16.7 16.2
0–9 21.0 21.5
10–19 22.2 23.0
20–29 18.7 19.6
30–39 17.7 16.5
40–49 12.7 12.6
50+ 7.7 6.8
children in the
None 47.0 46.4
One or more 53.0 53.6
208 Lysova et al.
assaulted, and 1.1% of the men and 0.5% of the women reported experiencing severe
forms of IPV. Although none of the men reported being sexually assaulted in the
current intimate relationships, men were more likely than women to report being
slapped, kicked, bit, hit, threatened with battery, or that something dangerous was
thrown at them. The odds of men reporting that they were physically assaulted
were 1.7 times that of women (ᆖ2= 12.7, p< .001) and the odds of men reporting
that they experienced severe physical assault were 2.1 times that of women (ᆖ2= 9,
p< .01). In terms of the frequency of assaults among the victims, 40% of these respon-
dents experienced more than two incidents of physical assaults within the past five
years. However, the frequency of violence suffered at the hands of current partners did
not differ significantly between male and female victims (42% and 39%, respectively,
ᆖ2= 0.17, p> .05).
Prevalence of Controlling Behaviors
Table 3 reveals that men were significantly more likely than women to report
being victims of at least one of the forms of controlling behaviors (10.1% and 6.8%
Victims of Self-Reported Physical and Sexual Intimate Partner
Violence in the Current Opposite Sex Relationships Within the Past 5 Years,
by Sex, 2014
Type of Violence Female Male Total ORaChi-
Threatened to hit
Hit with object
of or threat of use of
Being forced into
able to consent
Severe physical IPV
aOdds ratio (OR) in this table refers to female as the reference category.
*p< .05.**p< .01.*** p< .001.
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 209
respectively, ᆖ2= 13.4, p< .001). The odds of men reporting that they experienced
being limited from contacting their family or friends by their female partners were
1.8 times that of women and the odds of having experienced acts of jealousy by their
female partners (i.e., did not want the respondent to talk to other men or women) was
2.1 times that of women. Also, men were more likely to experience their female part-
ners demanding their whereabouts than women (4.6% and 2.5% respectively, ᆖ2= 28,
p< .001). Conversely, men were less likely to have their close ones or pets harmed or
threatened by their female partners than women (ᆖ2= 10.3, p< .01) and were also
less likely to be prevented access to the family income by their female partners than
women (ᆖ2= 6.6, p< .05).
Victims of Low and High Controlling Behavior
The results in Table 4 show that about two-thirds of cases of IPV involving the cur-
rent spouse/partner reported by both male and female victims in this sample could
be classified as SCV and 35% as IT. This large percentage of IT victims and the
Victims of Self-Reported Emotional and Financial Intimate
Partner Abuse (Controlling Behaviors) Among Victims of Physical and
Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the Current Opposite Sex Relationships
Within the Past 5 Years, by Sex, 2014
Variables Female Male Total ORaChi-
Harms others and/or
Damages your property
Prevents your access to
Forces you to give
money, possession, or
Total emotional and
Odds ratio (OR) in this table refers to female as the reference category.
*p< .05. **p< .01. *** p< .001.
210 Lysova et al.
TABLE 4. Type of Controlling Behavior Reported by the Victim of a Current
Spouse/Partner, by Severity of Violence and Sex of Victim
Sex of Victim and
Severity of Violence
Male 65 35 100
Minor violence 40 13 53
Severe violence 25 22 47
Female 66 34 100
Minor violence 50 15 65
Severe violence 16 19 35
similarity in the rates of male and female victims of IT (35% and 34% respectively)
is consistent with findings based on the NVAWS (Jasinski et al., 2014; Johnson &
Leone, 2000). Moreover, consistent with Johnson’s typology, physical violence embed-
ded in a general pattern of control (IT) appears to be more associated with severe than
with minor violence for both male and female victims. However, more men reported
severe violence in the context of IT than women (22% and 19% respectively).
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of IPV
Table 5 shows that male victims were significantly less likely than female victims
to report physical injuries and short-term emotional impacts of IPV. At the same
time, 12% of male victims had experienced physical injury resulting from a physical
assault (compared to 27% of female victims of IPV). About one quarter of male victims
reported that they felt angry and another quarter of men reported feeling upset, con-
fused, and frustrated during the IPV incidents. About 11% of male victims felt hurt
or disappointed at the time of the IPV incidents. About 6% of men felt victimized,
fearful for themselves or for their children. Moreover, there were similar rates for sev-
eral long-term effects of spousal trauma associated with the PTSD-related symptoms
among both male and female victims. These effects include the feeling of numbness
or detachment due to the IPV experience, avoidance of situation that reminds one
of the IPV experience, and being on guard and easily startled due to the IPV expe-
rience. However, female victims of IPV were significantly more likely to experience
nightmares or obsessive thoughts about IPV than male victims.
The data from this study revealed that men were significantly more likely than their
female counterparts to report experiencing physical IPV by an intimate partner in a
current relationship in the last 5 years. High rates of male victimization comparable
with victimization rates of women have been detected in several other studies based
on different samples and designs, including meta-analyses (Archer, 2000a; DesmaraisPdf_Folio:210
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 211
TABLE 5. Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence for Male and Female
Female Male Total ORaChi-
injured in any way
in the past 5 years
27.2 12.3 17.8 0.38 7.5**
Emotional impact at the time of the IPV incidents
Angry 36.8 24.1 28.7 0.54 3.5*
42.9 26.8 32.6 0.49 5.4*
26.2 10.5 16.1 0.33 6.81**
20.8 8 12.6 0.33 4.36***
Shocked/disbelief 22.7 8.4 13.5 0.31 5.49*
and/or afraid for
30.4 6.1 14.8 0.15 12.5***
Spousal trauma (long-term effects of IPV)
Had nightmares or
thought about IPV
when I did not
19.9 6.7 13.1 0.29 6.62*
Felt numb or
a result of IPV
18.6 10.5 14.4 0.51 1.35
that reminded me
29 19.4 24.1 0.59 1.40
and easily startled
14.7 15.7 15.2 1.1 0.02
aOdds ratio (OR) in this table refers to female as the reference category.
*p< .05. **p< .01. *** p< .001.
212 Lysova et al.
et al., 2012a; Jasinski et al., 2014; Straus, 2008; Whitaker, Haileyesus, Swahn, &
Saltzman, 2007). Most of these studies examined IPV on the basis of current or previ-
ous relationship combined, while the current study focused on IPV experiences only in
the current relationships, which can explain the somewhat different gender dynam-
ics with higher rates of male victimization in our study (Ansara & Hindin, 2010).
Higher rates of male than female IPV victimization in the current large-scale pop-
ulation survey appear to be inconsistent with the information provided by the police-
reported data on IPV-related offenses. That is, police statistics in Canada (and other
countries) consistently show that women are much more likely to become victims of
IPV-related offenses than men. In 2015, four out of five victims of IPV-related offenses
in Canada were women (79%), representing about 72,000 female victims (compared
to 19,000 male victims; Burczycka, 2016). Women were more likely than men to be
reported as victims of intimate partner homicide, sexual assaults, criminal harass-
ment, and uttering threats in the intimate relationship. This clearly indicates the
severity of IPV against women.
At the same time, research studies suggest that men hardly report being
abused to the police, even if they experience severe IPV (Douglas & Hines, 2011).
According to the 2009 Canadian GSS data, female victims of IPV were three times
more likely to report violent incidents to the police than male victims of IPV (Bren-
nan, 2011). In 2014, 76% of male victims reported that the IPV had not been
brought to the attention of police compared to 64% of female victims (Burczycka,
2016). Furthermore, male victims of IPV were more likely to mention that they
were more dissatisfied with the response of the police to their abusive experience
than female victims (Burczycka, 2016). The 2014 GSS also revealed that female
victims of IPV were almost four times more likely than male victims of IPV to report
having a restraining order enacted against their current or former spouse. These find-
ings did not differ in any significant way from the 2009 GSS findings (Burczycka,
2016). Capaldi et al. (2009) found in a longitudinal study in Oregon, United States
that mutually violent couples whose violence level increased on one occasion and who
called police resulted in arrest of the male in 85% of cases, despite the records of prior
violence by both parties.
Thus, the chiffre noir of crime is a major and persistent problem of the police data.
Police statistics reflect only the crimes that came to the attention of the police, and
these crimes are likely to be particularly serious. Victimization surveys capture many
other assaults that did not come to the attention of police and thus provide a comple-
mentary aspect of IPV, especially with data on men’s victimization experiences.
Another noteworthy finding of this study relates to the context of IPV experienced
by male victims. This study is one of few that examined types of controlling behavior
(i.e., low and high control) by severity of physical IPV for both female and male vic-
tims. Most of the previous studies examined the context of female victimization only
and found that about 35% of female victims of IPV in the general population were
victims of the most severe type of abuse known as IT (Johnson & Leone, 2000). Our
study found that about the same number of male and female victims had experienced
high controlling behavior in the context of IPV in Canada (35% and 34% respectively).
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 213
These findings are consistent with few other studies that examined the context of
male victimization (Bates, Graham-Kevan, & Archer, 2014; Jasinski et al., 2014). The
finding that needs to be examined in further studies is the large number of male vic-
tims (22%) compared to 19% of female victims who were found to have experienced
severe physical violence along with high controlling behaviors. Although previous
studies suggested that the effects of IT on male victims can be nearly as detrimen-
tal on female victims of IT (Hines & Douglas, 2010), IT represents a different phe-
nomenon when it affects men (Jasinski et al., 2014).
Another important finding of the current study pertains to the long-term effects of
IPV on male victims. Although female victims more often than male victims reported
the injuries and short-term emotional effects of IPV (which is consistent with Archer,
2000a; Sillito, 2012; Stets & Straus, 1990; Straus & Gozjolko, 2014), most of the long-
term effects of IPV associated with PTSD-related symptoms (e.g., feeling numb or
detached from others and activities, avoiding situations that reminded the victims
of IPV, being constantly on guard, watchful and easily startled) did not differ signif-
icantly between male and female victims of IPV. While there is some debate in the
literature about gender effects in reactions to abuse, Coker et al. (2002), in an analy-
sis of the U.S. NVAWS data, found similar negative physical and psychological effects
of abuse victimization for both genders. Men’s lower short-term emotional reactions
to IPV may be due to gender differences in the perception of abuse (Jasinski et al.,
2014) or to male socialization that dictate men to not look weak (Addis & Mahalik,
2003; Stanko & Hobdell, 1993) or disclose fear or anxiety (Brooks et al., 2017). Fur-
ther research is required to ascertain and explore which mechanisms are at work.
Overall, the findings of this study support the view that IPV is a serious problem for
both male and female victims.
Limitations and Potentials for Future Research
Several limitations of this study must be borne in mind when extrapolating from
the results. This study focused on the current spouse/partner relationships and pre-
vious studies suggest that the prevalence and dynamics of IPV can be different in
both men and women’s prior relationships (e.g., Ansara & Hindin, 2010). Also, Statis-
tics Canada framed its survey in a crime context, which could suppress the incidence
of reporting of abuse and produce high ratio of male to female assault perpetra-
tions (Straus, 1999). However, these limitations of crime studies seem irrelevant for
the Canadian GSS. As explained earlier, Statistics Canada attempted to overcome
the under-detection of IPV in its crime victim surveys. Although the general frame of
the survey focused on safety of Canadians and their experiences of crime, the specific
questions about physical and sexual IPV were introduced as “serious problem of vio-
lence in the home” (Statistics Canada, 2015, p. 122). This framing may explain higher
rates of IPV in current and previous relationships detected by GSS (i.e., 3.9% in 2014
and 6.2% in 2009, Burczycka, 2016) than expected in traditional crime studies (0.2%–
2.0%, Straus, 1999). Also, crime studies typically produced a higher ratio of male to
female assault perpetrations than family violence studies (Straus, 1999). However,Pdf_Folio:213
214 Lysova et al.
the current study found higher rates of IPV victimization for men than women. There-
fore, the design that also includes the “family conflict” framework and the findings
suggest that the Canadian victimization survey is not a typical crime study but rather
a hybrid survey design study.
One of the limitations of the 2014 GSS is that the respondents were asked only
about the IPV victimization experiences, so it was not possible to establish the extent
to which IPV was bidirectional using this data. A growing body of IPV literature, how-
ever, suggests that bidirectionality is a characteristic of most couples that experience
violence and that this mutual violence is associated with severe injuries to partners
(Charles, Whitaker, Le, Swahn, & DiClemente, 2011; Dim & Ogunye, 2017; Madsen,
Stith, Thomsen, & McCollum, 2012; Melander, Noel, & Tyler, 2010; Palmetto, David-
son, Breirbart, & Rickert, 2013; Whitaker et al., 2007). A meta-analysis of 25 peer-
reviewed studies by Park and Kim (2017) revealed that there is a significant overlap
between IPV victimization and perpetration. Thus, it is possible that the majority of
male and female victims of IPV in this study were involved in perpetrating IPV as
well. However, victims who were identified as experiencing IT were the least likely
to be involved in bidirectional violence (Johnson, 2008; Johnson & Leone, 2005).
In addition, several claims have been made regarding the validity of the CTS, with
which the 2014 GSS collected its data (Ackerman, 2016; Kimmel, 2002). For example,
Ackerman (2016) claimed that the male participants were more likely to misinterpret
the contents of the CTS, in that the event was an accident or was not taken seri-
ously. However, these arguments about male “over use” of the CTS are contradicted
by results of national surveys reported by Desmarais et al. (2012a, 2012b) which show
that male self-reports of victimization are lower than female reports of perpetration.
Specifically, summed across large-scale surveys, the average reported victimization
rate by men was 18% but the average perpetration rate reported by women was
23%. Moreover, many other researchers have argued that the revised CTS2 properly
accounts for the context of violence and separates incidents of play fighting and actual
assault (Archer, 2000b; Felson, 2002; Jouriles & Kamata, 2016; Straus, 2016). Also,
the use of a 5-year timeframe combined with the relative salience of IPV rendered
recall bias unlikely to have contributed to underreporting IPV in the current study.
This study found a large number of men in Canada who suffered from IT and expe-
rienced long-term traumatic effects of IPV. The subject of addressing IPV, especially
within the criminal justice system, requires an inclusive framework for both male and
female victims. Addressing IPV should not be a zero-sum game, in which address-
ing male victims will deny female victims attention or resources. While this study
drew attention to the problem of male IPV victimization, it did find women experi-
enced higher chances of injuries from IPV that necessitates the continuing efforts to
address violence against women in the relationships. Thus, the debate on IPV should
be inclusive of both genders, which points to the nuanced nature and complexity of
IPV (Hamel & Nicholls, 2007; ). As our study suggests, we need to be considerate ofPdf_Folio:214
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 215
the experiences of male victims of IPV that can be both similar to and different from
those of women.
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People who identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual were about 2%.
2. One of the weights allowed for the release of descriptive and bivariate data in the
RDC is the “svy” weight through which the general population can be reflected
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Disclosure. This research was supported by funds to the Canadian Research Data
Centre Network (CRDCN) from the Social Science and Humanities research Coun-
cil (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian
Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Statistics Canada. Although the research and
Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada 221
analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not
represent the views of Statistics Canada or the Canadian Research Data Centre
Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to Alexandra Lysova, Simon
Fraser University, School of Criminology, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, V5A1S6,