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Natives in Canada see highest rates of domestic violence

Natives in Canada are three times more likely to be victims of violence than their non-Native counterparts, Statistics Canada reported on Thursday.

Based on a 2004 survey, 21 percent of Native people said they were the victims of domestic violence. In comparison, only 7 percent of non-Natives reported being victimized by their partner or former partner.

Strikingly, Native women and Native men reported equally high rates of domestic violence. According to the survey, 24 percent of Native women and 21 percent of Native men were victimized by an intimate partner.

Native victims were also more likely to report more "serious violence" at the hands of their partners, the reported stated. Of survey respondents, 41 percent of Native women and men said they were beaten, choked, threatened with or had a gun or knife used against them, or were sexually assaulted, compared to 27 percent of non-Native respondents.

"When considering only women victims of spousal violence, differences in the level of serious violence emerge more strongly between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations," the report continued.

More than half, or 54 percent, of Native women reported being beaten, choked, threatened with or having a gun or knife used against them or sexually assaulted. In comparison, only 37 percent of non-Native women reported similar violence.

Emotional abuse was another disparity area identified in the report. According to the survey, 36 percent of Native women and men suffered from emotional abuse compared to 17 percent of non-Natives.

"Given that the level of violence experienced by Aboriginal people was generally more serious than that experienced by non-Aboriginal victims of spousal violence, it is not surprising that these two populations reported dissimilar proportions of injury," the report said.

Native people were more likely to be injured as a result of domestic violence than non-Natives, the data showed. A larger number of Natives, 33 percent, said they feared for their lives as a result of violence, compared to 22 percent of non-Natives.

Native women and men experienced "elevated levels" of stalking as well, Statistics Canada reported. One in five Native women, or 21 percent, were stalked compared to 11 percent of non-Native women. Among men, 12 percent of Natives were the victims of talking compared to 7 percent of non-Natives. Native stalking victims were also more likely to experience violence than non-Native stalking victims, the report said.

The Canadian data mirrors statistics found in the United States. According to U.S. Department of Justice studies, American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from the highest rates of violence, including domestic violence, in the nation.

Native American women suffer the most when it comes to the domestic violence. One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime, and the perpetrator is likely to be non-Native, the data shows.

Tribal leaders in the U.S. are currently supporting a bill that would give them greater ability to protect Native women and children. They also want Congress to recognize their ability to prosecute non-Natives in domestic violence cases.

Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile:
Summary | Full Report