National survey shows abuse numbers for men on the rise on the rise in Edmonton
By Jen Ross
A national profile of family violence released by Statistics Canada reveals an increasing number of males are the victims of spousal abuse.
And local stats show a similar trend.
Across Canada, incidents involving male victims of spousal violence rose six per cent from 1993 to 1996, while those involving female victims fell nine per cent.
In Edmonton, police reports show that during the same time frame, males increased by one percentage point as a proportion of all victims, while females decreased by one percentage point.
"It doesn't necessarily mean that this is happening more to males," says Anne Fitzpatrick, coordinator for Edmonton's Family Violence Prevention Centre. "It may just reflect that men are increasingly comfortable coming forward and acknowledging that this is happening in their lives."
A family violence specialist argues it's pointless to look at the victims' sex.
"In the past few years, there's been an increasing number of people concerned that males get assaulted too," says Staff Sgt. Glenda Malina, who supervises the spousal violence section of Edmonton Police Services. "But it's not a question of 'who should we blame?'
"If we look at it as if it's a 'man thing' or a 'woman thing,' then we miss the marker that violence is just wrong ... And in any case, it's usually children seeing the violence who are the biggest victims," says Malina.
However, more surprising than the statistics on local changes in spousal abuse charges between 1993 and 1996, are last year's figures, which reveal a near-doubling in the number of women charged with spousal violence.
It translates into a 104 per cent increase, from 75 women charged in 1993, to 153 in 1997.
In the same period, the number of men charged rose by only 11 per cent, from 1,089 to 1,207.
Overall spousal abuse charges rose by 16.8 per cent during that four-year period.
Malina suggests the huge increase may reflect the fact Edmonton police changed the way they report and record spousal abuse in the last year.
She says they will now report even low-risk violence like a shouting match because: "If we get involved in the lows, we may be better able to prevent the highs."
* THE LOCAL PICTURE
Males charged (female victims): 1993: 1,089
% increase from 93-96: down 18% 1997: 1,207
% increase from 93-97: up 11%
Females charged (male victims):
% increase from 93-96: down 5.3% 1997: 153
% increase from 93-97: up 104%
% increase from 93-96: down 17.2% 1997: 1360
% increase from 93-97: up 16.8%
Cases where no charges laid:
% increase from 93-96: up 14.3% 1997: 900
% increase from 93-97: up 40%
Source: Edmonton Police Services