Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Intimate partner violence is similarly prevalent in same-sex relationships as in heterosexual ones, a new study from the University of Guelph has found.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, is the largest peer-reviewed study of its kind to look at the issue of intimate partner violence in same-sex couples in Canada.

“It’s a first step only, but an important one – because it highlights the need to be specific and clear about the groups being examined and their experiences of violence, not only across groups but within groups as well,” University of Guelph Professor Myrna Dawson said.

Story continues below advertisement

Prof. Dawson leads the school’s Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence (CSSLRV), which oversaw the study. Researchers analyzed data from Statistics Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, which gathers data directly from police reports and was designed to measure the incidence of crime in Canada.

Of the more than 340,000 incidents of partner violence analyzed by the researchers (all of which were reported to the police between 2007 and 2011), 97 per cent involved heterosexual partners and 3 per cent involved same-sex partners. That’s consistent, the study’s authors say, with previous Statistics Canada research on the proportion of Canadians who identify as LGBTQ2S+.

Prof. Dawson, who is also co-chair of the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative, said this research will be critical in helping stakeholders to dissect the realities of gender-based violence – a term that she says governments have started to use as a “broad, catch-all term...with little understanding about what exactly is being examined or discussed.”

While the study revealed similarities in the prevalence of police-reported violence between heterosexual and same-sex couples, it also captured some key differences in experiences.

Though more incidents of violence involved female victims, a higher percentage of the violence reported by male victims involved aggravated assault or assault with a weapon. This could be, the researchers noted, because men were less likely to call police except in the more extreme cases.

“These victims may be further impacted by society’s traditional beliefs about masculinity, which suggest that males should be strong and in control, not victims,” Prof. Dawson said.

She said these important distinctions “are missed when we don't look at the experiences of specific groups.” Violence cannot be prevented if it is not examined and understood, she argues.

Story continues below advertisement

The team acknowledges there are limitations in the data that make it difficult to draw concrete conclusions from.

For one, the relationship between the victim and accused cited in each case was determined by police – not by the people involved themselves. Gender information is also reported by police, not by the individuals. There are three options: male, female and unknown. In this study, any cases involving people identified as “unknown” had to be excluded because purpose of this study was to contrast same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.

Another challenge is the reality of how under-reported intimate partner violence is. When you compound that with the fact that LGBTQ2S+ people face additional stigma and barriers when deciding whether to go to police, the study authors acknowledge these figures are also likely particularly low.

But they see this study as a launch pad for future research.

Jessica Whitehead, lead author of the study and a former criminology and criminal justice policy master’s student at Guelph, hopes the study will highlight the need for more inclusive policies and resources when it comes to responding to and supporting victims of violence and abuse.

“Right now there’s this cyclical problem that there’s limited awareness or recognition of this issue by individuals themselves ... and limited awareness among the service providers responding to their needs. And as a result, we have a lack of research, which then leads to a lack of policies and programming initiatives, and then circles back to not having as much awareness as there could be,” Ms. Whitehead said.

Story continues below advertisement

“My ultimate hope would be that there’s more acknowledgment and planning and preparedness on the service provider end as well.”

Helen Kennedy, the executive director of LGBTQ2S+ organization Egale Canada, is well aware of the lack of information in this area.

Given the limitations of the Statistics Canada Uniform Crime Reporting survey, she is wary of how reflective it can possibly be when it comes to the experiences of the LGBTQ community.

“We live in a very binary society,” she said. “We’re devoid of real research data and statistical data in this area for sure.”

But she says any research in this area is a positive.

“If it does nothing else than raise awareness about the problem then I’ll take it,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story failed to identify Jessica Whitehead as the lead author of the study.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies