The territories had the highest rates of police-reported family violence in Canada in 2014, according to newly released data from Statistics Canada. In Nunavut the rates were over 10 times higher than the Canadian average although overall rates are decreasing.
In 2014, there were an average of about 243 incidents of police-reported family violence in Canada per 100,000 people. The numbers in the territories came in much higher with Nunavut at 2,491, the Northwest Territories at 1,897 and Yukon at 912.
"Nunavut has a higher rate of this type of violence that's reported to police than Canada overall, a 10-time higher rate," said Marta Burczycka, an analyst with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and one of the authors of the Statistics Canada report.
The territories had higher rates of police-reported violence against children and youth, violence against seniors and intimate partner violence than anywhere else in Canada.
Violence persistent, but declining
In 2014, more than 323,600 people were victims of violent crime in Canada, 26 per cent of whom were victimized by a family member. Seven in 10 victims of family violence were women and girls, and more than 15,2000 victims of violent crime were under 12 years old.
Over one quarter of all victims of police-reported violent crime were victimized by a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or another immediate or extended family member.
The good news is that the rates of police-reported incidents of family violence are declining.
From 2013 to 2014 there was a four per cent decline in Canada. In Yukon there was a three per cent decline, in N.W.T there was a six per cent decline and Nunavut had a 12 per cent decline.
Hawa Dumbuya, program coordinator with the Yellowknife Victim Services, said her office sees many cases of intimate partner abuse — approximately 50 to 60 cases per month.
"A client came in, she was choked to the point where she was passed out and what she said was that he choked me until I fell asleep."
Most of the clients Dumbuya sees are from aboriginal communities.
'A small picture of the reality'
Hillary Aitken, program coordinator of the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre in Whitehorse, said the reported numbers only tell part of the story.
"We need to recognize that these numbers only represent a small picture of the reality of what's happening for women in this country and in the North in particular."
Aitken says only about three in 10 incidents of intimate partner violence and one in 10 sexual assaults are reported to the police.
"This tells me that our legal system is not responding effectively to women who experience violence," she said.
"We need to explore different ways for women to come forward, seek support, and find justice for their offender —initiatives such as third party reporting."
Aitken said she hopes that more men will also come forward to help report cases of family violence. She said aboriginal communities are most in need of services.
"This tells me we desperately need immediate action out of the inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women," added Aiken.