Almost a quarter of people in Canada feel gender-based violence is “none of their business”

New survey shows gap between desire to end violence and ability to support victims

Toronto, ON – March 7, 2022 – Ahead of International Women’s Day, a national poll by the Canadian Women’s Foundation finds 23 per cent of Canadians feel intimate partner violence is “none of my business if it doesn’t directly involve me.” Furthermore, 46 per cent say that gender-based violence (GBV) “feels too big for me to play a role in ending it.”

“While most people in Canada agree that we need to break the silence about gender-based violence, there remains conflicting ideas about the role we can personally play to end it,” says Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “Given the reality that those facing abuse often disclose to people they know rather than to authorities, the disconnect between knowing something needs to be done but not knowing what to do can have a serious impact.”

Thirty-five (35) per cent of GBV survivors report not disclosing abuse because they felt there was no one they could tell, and 27 per cent felt they would not be believed. Thirty-two (32) per cent did not disclose because they felt they would be judged, blamed, or shamed. Twelve (12) per cent were afraid to report abuse, fearing their abusers might find out – a number that increased to 28 per cent for racialized survivors.

“In addition to calling out violence, we must ensure everyone has the confidence and competence to support survivors from all backgrounds and communities. We must act on the core values we hold about ending abuse,” says Senior. “Survivors of GBV are not as well-supported as they deserve to be, but with the right interventions, we can change that.”

Eighty-six (86) per cent of people in Canada believe they are able to support someone facing physical abuse, but only 66% of those who disclosed experiences of this abuse felt supported. Similarly, 80% believe they are able to support someone facing sexual abuse and 85% believe they are able to support someone facing emotional abuse, but only 63% of those who disclosed sexual abuse and 70% of those who disclosed emotional abuse felt supported.

Canadians believe that workplaces and educational institutions also have a role to play in addressing GBV. Ninety (90) per cent believe that decisionmakers, community leaders, and workplaces should take proactive steps to better support those facing abuse. Eighty-eight (88) per cent believe that ways to support those experiencing GBV should be taught in schools.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Signal for Help is a powerful tool that can be used by anyone experiencing violence. The one-handed signal can be made without leaving a digital trace, and it has gone viral since its 2020 launch. The Signal indicates a person’s desire to be checked in on safely. The Foundation offers free tools for how to give proactive, judgement-free support to survivors of abuse in its Signal for Help Responder guide available for individuals and organizations. This International Women’s Day, become a Signal for Help Responder by downloading the guide at

The Signal for Help Responder project is funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.

For more info on the survey statistics, click here.

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The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a national leader in the movement for gender equality in Canada.

Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing, we work to achieve systemic change. We support women, girls, and gender-diverse people to move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership.

Since 1991, our generous donors and supporters have contributed more than $150 million to fund over 2,500 life-transforming programs throughout Canada.

Editor’s Note: When referring to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, please use the full name. Please do not abbreviate or use acronyms.


Maru/Matchbox conducted a survey on behalf of The Canadian Women’s Foundation. The survey was conducted from February 7th to 11th, 2022 among a representative sample of n=2,024 Canadians. The sample was weighted to census.

Released by Maru Public Opinion, this research was conducted by Maru/Matchbox who used its panel and data services provider Maru/Blue to survey a randomly selected sample of Canadians who are members of its Voice Canada online panel, and then weighted the results to be nationally representative. The detailed findings are at:

Although the research sample for this study includes asking if Canadians know transgender and gender nonbinary individuals who have experienced violence, sample sizes are not large enough to draw general conclusions about their experiences.