Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS)

Detailed information for 1993




One Time

Record number:


This one-time-only survey examines the safety of women both inside and outside the home - perceptions of fear, sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical violence and threats by strangers, dates/boyfriends, other known men, husbands and common-law partners.

Data release - June 30, 1994 (Similar survey content is included in the General Social Survey - Victimization, conducted every five years. For more information, refer to the link in the Documentation section at the bottom of this page.)


This one-time-only survey examines the safety of women both inside and outside the home - perceptions of fear, sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical violence and threats by strangers, dates/boyfriends, other known men, husbands and common-law partners.


  • Crime and justice
  • Crimes and offences
  • Family violence
  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the VAWS was all women 18 years of age and over in Canada, excluding:
1. residents of the Yukon and Northwest Territories;
2. full-time residents of institutions.

Instrument design

Questionnaires and procedures were field tested twice for this survey; the first test in May-June 1992, the second in September 1992. The two tests were conducted from Regional Headquarters, in Ottawa.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

This survey was conducted using the Random Digit Dialing method of contacting households. With this method, every household with telephone service had a chance of being selected. Households without telephones could not participate, nor could women who did not speak English or French. Only 1% of the female population of the ten provinces live in households without telephone service; in approximately 3% of the households contacted, there was a non-response due to language.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: February 1993 to June 1993

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The Violence Against Women Survey collected data using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and so paper questionnaires were not used. With CATI, the survey questions appeared on a computer screen. The interviewer asked the respondent questions as they appeared on the screen, then entered the responses into the computer.

Data collection began in February 1993 and continued through to the end of June 1993. All interviewing took place using centralized telephone facilities in Regional Headquarters office with calls being made from approximately 10:00 until 23:00, Sunday to Friday inclusive; with the last call being placed no later than 8:00 p.m. local time. Interviewers were trained by Statistics Canada staff in telephone interviewing techniques, survey concepts and procedures in an eight-day classroom training session.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

All survey records were subjected to an exhaustive computer edit to identify and correct invalid or inconsistent information on the questionnaires. Some answers were verified for consistency
during the interview by the CATI system. Flow patterns and valid codes were programmed prior to the start of the survey, which eliminated keypunch errors.

In the event the respondent was unwilling or unable to answer specific questions, "refused" and "do not know" codes were used, as appropriate, for individual questions. The interview could
not proceed to the next question until each question was given a valid answer.

The items required for weighting, such as age and number of residential telephone lines in the household, were not permitted "refused" or "do not know" codes.


The estimates derived from this survey are based on a sample of households. Somewhat different figures might have been obtained if a complete census had been taken using the same questionnaire, interviewers, supervisors, processing methods, etc. as those actually used. The difference between the estimates obtained from the sample and the results from a complete count taken under similar conditions is called the sampling error of the estimate.

Although the exact sampling error of the estimate, as defined above, cannot be measured from sample results alone, it is possible to estimate a statistical measure of sampling error, the standard error, from the sample data. Using the standard error, confidence intervals for estimates (ignoring the effects of non-sampling error) may be obtained under the assumption that the estimates are normally distributed about the true population value. The chances are about 68 out of 100 that the difference between a sample estimate and the true population value would be less than one standard error, about 95 out of 100 that the difference would be less than two standard errors, and it is virtually certain that the differences would be less than three standard errors.

Quality evaluation

Over a large number of observations, randomly occurring errors will have little effect on estimates derived from the survey. However, errors occurring systematically will contribute to biases in the survey estimates. Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non-sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. These measures included the use of highly skilled interviewers, extensive training of interviewers with respect to the survey procedures and questionnaire, observation of interviewers to detect problems of questionnaire design or misunderstanding of instructions, procedures to ensure that data capture errors were minimized and coding and edit quality checks to verify the processing logic.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Data accuracy

From the approximately 19,000 eligible households contacted, 12,300 interviews were obtained, a response rate of 54%. Non- response occurred for a variety of reasons including refusals, language, and unavailability of the woman selected for the interview. Most non-response occurred before the respondent was contacted. Among those households where a respondent was contacted (13,500), the response rate was 91 %.

Estimates of proportions of the female population of Canada 18 years of age and over produced from this survey are expected to be within 1.2% of the true proportion 19 times out of 20. Estimates of proportions of subpopulations will have wider confidence intervals.


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