The economic burden of family violence

The cost of family violence on victims
According to 2012 study,

"Victim costs ($6.0 billion/year) accounted for the largest proportion (80.7%) of the total economic impact for cost items such as medical attention, lost wages, lost education, the value of stolen/damaged property, and pain and suffering."

Family violence has high costs for Canadian society --to the health and justice systems, employers and businesses, social and community services, and to families and people themselves.

Although studies on the economic impact of violence can be difficult to compare--since costs are considered and calculated differently--results all indicate that these costs are significant and are not going down. Researchers consider these costs to be under-estimated because it is challenging to account for all the public, private and individual costs of family violence. Despite some fluctuations and variations in methodology, it is clear that the costs associated with family violence remain significant.

Here's how reports have estimated the cost related to different aspects of family violence:


$7.4 billion/year

  • $6 billion in victim costs--for pain and suffering, counseling, and legal fees for divorce
  • $811 million in 3rd-party costs--to families and social services
  • $545 million in criminal and civil justice costs--for police, courts, and corrections services
  • $79 million in costs to employers, including productivity and administrative costs


$6.9 billion/year

  • Study measured costs for women who have left abusive partners
  • Combined private and public sector costs add up to about $13,000 for each woman


$4.23 billion/year (translates to $5.89 billion/year in 2013 dollars)

  • Study calculated costs to health, criminal justice, social services and education, and labour and employment
  • Includes intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and child sexual assault


Zhang, T., Hoddenbagh, J., McDonald, S., and Scrim, K. (2012). "An Estimation of the Economic Impact of Spousal Violence in Canada, 2009", Department of Justice Canada. Ottawa. (Accessed: February 1, 2014)

Varcoe, C., Hankivsky, O., Ford-Gilboe, M., Wuest, J., Wilk, P., Hammerton, J., and Campbell, J. (2011). "Attributing selected costs to intimate partner violence in a sample of women who have left abusive partners: A social determinants of health approach," Canadian Public Policy - Analyse de politiques, vol. 37(3): 1-21.

Greaves, L., Hankivsky, O., & Kingston-Riechers, J. (1995). Selected Estimates of Costs of Violence against Women. Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children, London, Ontario, Canada.

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