Marital Status Variations in Canadian Public Housing Woman Abuse

Walter S. DeKeseredy, Ohio University
Martin D. Schwartz, Ohio University
Shahid Alvi, University of St. Thomas

As many feminist scholars correctly point out, male-to-female physical and sexual abuse cuts across all socio-demographic groups. However, a growing body of empirical work demonstrates that women who are socially and economically marginalized, such as those who live in public housing, suffer from such abuse at a greater rate than their more affluent counterparts. However, which groups of women living under conditions of poverty are at the most risk of being assaulted by male partners? So far, there have been very few attempts to empirically answer this question, especially in Canada. We hypothesize that separated or divorced women residing in impoverished Canadian public housing estates are more likely to be victimized by intimate violence than those who are married/cohabiting. Guided by Ellis and DeKeseredy's (1997) challenge model of intimate femicide and using data elicited by the Quality of Neighborhood Life Survey, we tested this hypothesis and the main objective of this paper is to describe our results and the policy implications of our findings. We found that separated or divorced women report much higher rates of severe violence than those who are married/cohabiting, and there is a small statistical relationship between estrangement, welfare, and violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006