Fact sheet: Family violence

If you are in an emergency situation please access 9-1-1 (in Canada), for emergency services in your area.

If you are outside the 9-1-1 service area, please access available emergency services or call a crisis line in your area.

The issue

Family violence is any form of abuse or neglect experienced by a child or adult from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship,Footnote 1 whether current or former. Family violence affects people in different family and relationship-based contexts, regardless of their age, geographic location, income level or education. It affects people of all races, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations.

Family violence can be a single act of violence or a series of acts that form a pattern/cycle of violence. Family violence has serious health, social, and financial impacts on those directly involved. These impacts can last a lifetime and span generations, leading to intergenerational trauma.Footnote 2 Family violence can also impact the extended family, friends, and coworkers of the people affected by it.

When violence is committed against someone based on their gender, gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender, it is a form of gender-based violence.

Family violence includes many forms of violence, including:

There are also different types of family violence, including:

The law

The Criminal Code includes offences that prohibit many aspects of family violence such as assault, homicide, kidnapping, forcible confinement, human trafficking, sexual assault, child sexual offences, criminal harassment, failure to provide necessaries of life, criminal negligence, theft, fraud, extortion and forgery.Footnote 4

In Canada, most provinces and territories have adopted civil domestic/family violence laws that provide for either short-term emergency protection orders or long-term victim assistance orders. Other jurisdictions, such as Ontario and British Columbia, provide for protection or restraining orders in their family law legislation. These laws allow individuals to seek protection through the civil and family justice systems, in addition to any potential recourse they may have in the criminal justice system.

All provinces and territories have child protection laws that allow state intervention in cases when a child is in need of protection.Footnote 4

The facts

The Government of Canada is working to increase its knowledge about this form of violence. As is the case with many forms of violence, those who experience family violence may not report it to the police for a variety of reasons, including fear for personal safety and fear of stigma/shame.Footnote 5

Here are some key facts:

Family violence against children and youth

Canadian police-reported dataFootnote 6 (2019):

Intimate partner violence

For detailed statistics on intimate partner violence, consult the fact sheet on intimate partner violence.

Family violence against seniors

Canadian police-reported data (2019):


You may access the following list of additional support services for people affected by GBV.

This fact sheet was developed in collaboration with other federal government departments.

Publication date: fall 2020. Updated statistics in fall 2021.

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