This Glossary provides a central place to find the meaning of key terms in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) work and to access resources for further learning. It will grow and change as the GBV field does. If you find a term should be added or revised, please contact us at gbvln@uwo.ca

You can view the terms associated with a letter by selecting the letter below. Crossed out letters do not have any terms.



Abandonment can be physical (e.g. the person leaves) or emotional (e.g. withholding affection, lack of time spent together). Abandonment can be cause for a child abuse investigation. [1]


[1] The Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex. (n.d.). Other reasons for child abuse investigations. Retrieved from https://www.caslondon.on.ca/services/prevention/other_reasons_for_child_abuse_investigations


“Ableism and ableist views are ideas/beliefs that are based on the assumption that the ‘able-body’ is favoured/preferred over the disabled body. Similar to the experience of racism, homophobia/transphobia and sexism, socially constructed characteristics of disability position people with disabilities as an ‘inferior’ group to non-disabled people.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Odette, F. (2013). Ableism – A form of violence against women. In Learning Network Issue 7: Violence Against Women with DisAbilities and Deaf Women. Available at: http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/issue-7-violence-against-women-disabilities-and-deaf-women


“Abuse is behavior used to intimidate, harm, isolate, dominate, or control another person.” Abusive behavior encompasses actions, words, and neglect, and may be a pattern of occurrences or a single isolated incident. The abuse can be sexual, physical, verbal, spiritual, emotional, financial, neglectful or psychological in nature. [1] “Abuse can happen to anyone, of any age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or gender. (It) can affect people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.” [2]


[1] eMentalHealth. (2017). Abuse and Domestic Violence. Retrieved from https://www.ementalhealth.ca/Ontario/Abuse-and-Domestic-Violence/index.php?m=article&ID=8920

[2] Shelter Safe. (2018). Stay Safe. Retrieved from https://www.sheltersafe.ca/staysafe/

Abused Partner

An individual who is abused by their intimate partner. Used interchangeably with survivor, victimized parent, and adult victim. Many advocates prefer the term “survivor,” or the fact that a person has “lived experience” of abuse, since these reflect the reality that many abused individuals cope and move on with personal strength, resourcefulness, and determination. [1]

Learn More:


[1] Baker, L. L., & Cunningham, A. J. (2005). Learning to listen, learning to help: Understanding woman abuse and its effects on children. London, Ontario: Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System. Retrieved from https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/g4/11/1895953286_5865st.pdf


Refers to a role taken on by activists who contributed positively to anti-oppression work but are not personally or directly impacted by that form of oppression.  This term is often used as a contrast (or complement) to the term “ally.” [1]

“For social justice advocates who use the term accomplice, they often see the site of focus as the main difference between the work of an ally and that of an accomplice. An ally will mostly engage in activism by standing with an individual or group in a marginalized community. An accomplice will focus more on dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group—and such work will be directed by the stakeholders in the marginalized group. Simply, ally work focuses on individuals, and accomplice work focuses on the structures of decision-making agency.” [2]


[1] Croft, C. (2020). Ally versus accomplice. North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Retrieved from https://nccasa.org/announcements/ally-versus-accomplice/

[2] Clemens, C. (2017). Ally or accomplice? The language of activism. Learning for Justice. Retrieved from https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/ally-or-accomplice-the-language-of-activism


Relational accountability refers to the “power of relationships, connections, and human interactions to help reduce domestic violence and support positive change.” [1]

Systemic Accountability “focuses on accountability within and across systems to support domestic violence offenders in reducing or eliminating their use of violence and other forms of coercive control….” [1]

Learn more:



[1] Quality Improvement Center on Domestic Violence in Child Welfare. (2019). Relational and Systemic Accountability for Persons Who Use Violence. 

Acid Attack

“An acid attack involves the premeditated throwing of acid on a victim, usually on her face. In addition to causing psychological trauma, acid attacks result in severe pain, permanent disfigurement, subsequent infections, and often blindness in one or both eyes. Perpetrators commit acid attacks for a number of reasons, including revenge for refusal of a marriage proposal or other romantic or sexual advances; land disputes; perceived dishonor; and jealousy.  While acid attacks are most prevalent in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Pakistan, they have also been reported in Afghanistan and in parts of Africa and Europe.” [1]


[1] UN Women. (2011, January). Acid attacks. 


Advocates raise public awareness of the issue of interpersonal violence and empower and help [individuals] navigate the system to access resources. [1]


[1] Native Women's Association of Canada. (2012). Community resource guide. Retrieved from https://www.nwac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2012_NWAC_Community_Resource_Guide_MMAWG.pdf

Adverse Childhood Experiences

“Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0–17 years). For example: experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect; witnessing violence in the home or community; having a family member attempt or die by suicide. Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with: substance misuse; mental health problems; instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison.” [1]

Learn More:



[1] Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Fast facts: What are adverse childhood experiences? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Retrieved from:  https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html


AFAB and AMAB are terms often used by transgender folks to distinguish the sex they were assigned at birth from their gender.

AFAB is an acronym for “assigned female at birth” meaning that the person was born with sex characteristics typically associated with females (e.g. ovaries, uterus). AMAB is an acronym for “assigned male at birth” meaning that the person was born with sex characteristics typically associated with males (e.g. testicles, penis). [1]



[1] Exton, R. (2020). What does AFAB mean? Her. Retrieved from AFAB Meaning - LGBTQ Glossary | HER (weareher.com)  


Ageism is a form of discrimination against people based on age. It can be experienced at any age, but most commonly is experienced by those who are described as young or old. Ageism functions through stereotypes, marginalization, and social exclusion and can negatively affect the lives of people in many domains including their employment, housing, services, medical care, and group membership. Ageism is also connected to elder abuse. 

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Agency is an “individual’s (or group’s) ability to make effective choices and to transform those choices into desired outcomes.” [1]

“Across all countries women and men differ in their ability to make effective choices in a range of spheres, with women at a disadvantage. Thus, agency is key to understanding how gender outcomes emerge and why they are equal or unequal. Expressions of agency include control over resources, ability to move freely, decision making over family formation, freedom from the risk of violence, and the ability to have a voice in society and influence policy. Social norms shape women’s agency.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] World Bank Group. (2012). Promoting women’s agency. 

Aggravated Sexual Assault

According to Section 273 (1) of the Criminal Code, “Every one commits an aggravated sexual assault who, in committing a sexual assault, wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.” [1]

The maximum penalty for Aggravated Sexual Assault is life imprisonment. [2]

Learn More:


[1] Criminal Code, RSC, 1985, c. C-46. s. 273. Retrieved from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-273.html

[2] Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. (n.d.). Glossary and Definitions. Retrieved from http://avaloncentre.ca/quicklinks/glossary-and-definitions/


“A person who works to end a form of oppression that gives them privilege(s). Allies listen to, and are guided by, communities and individuals affected by oppression. Forms of oppression include: able-ism, ageism, audism, classism, biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, and others.” [1]


[1] The519. (n.d.). The 519 glossary of terms. Retrieved from http://www.the519.org/education-training/glossary


The Alternative Right, commonly known as the alt-right, is “a set of far-right ideologies, groups, and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity. is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness, and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ’their’ civilization.” [1]

Learn More:



[1] Alt-Right. (n.d.). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/alt-right

Amourgynoir Code

Amourgynoir is a term coined by Nneka MacGregor from Women at the centre as a verb “to define the actions taken to proactively, deliberately, and intentionally uplift and centre self-identified Black women, girls, gender diverse & trans peoples (BWGGDT); to love, like, trust, have faith and belief in Black-identified women, girls, gender diverse & trans peoples.” [1]

The term is important because:

  • It is s survivor-led and survivor-centred
  • It records the truths of BWGGDT survivors’ experiences of anti-Black gender-based violence including state-sanctioned violence in response to gender-based violence
  • It is grounded in the lived experiences of BWGGDT survivors whose lives are the sites of white supremacy and black resistance
  • It uses a transformative accountability and justice framework to change the conditions that create, reinforce, and perpetuate acts of violence against BWGGDT
  • It inspires hope for the liberation of BWGGDT and all oppressed peoples in Canada [1]

Learn More:


[1] The Amourgynoir Code. (n.d.). What is Amourgynoir? Retrieved from  https://www.theamourgynoircode.org/what/

Animal Abuse

“Animal abuse includes physical abuse (non-accidental injury), sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and staging animal fights. Physical abuse includes the infliction of injuries or causing unnecessary pain, including inappropriate methods of training. Sexual abuse includes any sexual conduct with animals, which may or may not result in physical injury to the animal.  Emotional abuse may include repeated or sustained ‘mental violence’ including withholding social interactions. Neglect is the failure to provide adequate levels of food, water, shelter, and veterinary care to animals causing poor physical condition.” [1]

Animal abuse is addressed by both federal [2] and provincial [3] legislation. Animal abuse is linked to violence against women and children. [4]

Learn More:


[1] Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. (2019). Animal abuse. 

[2] Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. (2019). Federal legislation. 

[3] Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. (2019). Provincial legislation. 

[4] Barrett, B., Fitzgerald, A., Stevenson, R., & Chung, C.H. (2017). Animal maltreatment as a risk marker of more frequent and severe forms of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, pp. 1-26. DOI: 10.1177/0886260517719542

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy refers to the support of animals in therapeutic interventions to increase social engagement, communication, mental health, and improve quality of life. [1]

Animals engaging in animal-assisted therapy tend to be horses, dogs, cats and birds. [2]

Animal-assisted therapy can support individuals who experience stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and is rooted in the bond that can develop between people and animals. [2]

Learn More:


[1] Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. (n.d.). Animal-Assisted Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.ontarioshores.ca/animal-assisted-therapy

[2] Psychology Today. (2022). Animal-Assisted Therapy. Retrieved from  https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapy-types/animal-assisted-therapy

Anti-Black Racism

“Anti-Black Racism is defined as policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as, education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of Black-African descent. Anti-Black Racism is associated with significant mental and physical negative health outcomes, poor stress-coping behaviors (e.g. substance abuse), and a reduced likelihood to seek service provided care. Black Canadians often reside in ‘service deserts,’ which further limits accessibility to healthcare and community services.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Black Health Alliance. (2018). Anti-Black Racism. Retrieved from http://blackhealthalliance.ca/home/antiblack-racism


“The term anti-oppression reflects a number of different approaches to the work of addressing the social and institutional inequalities in our society.” [1] “Anti-oppression work seeks to recognize and develop strategies, theories, and actions which challenge systems of inequalities and injustices that are ingrained in our systems, such as institutional policies and practices that allow certain groups to dominate other groups (or the ideologies that justify such domination).” [2]

“An anti-oppression framework involves an analysis of the effects of class demarcation, power, privilege, the absence and presence of civil liberties, internalized and external classism, caste systems, gender oppression, heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia within society for the purpose of eradicating the associated burdens imposed upon oppressed and marginalized individuals and groups. An anti-oppression framework supports oppressed and marginalized individuals and groups in building their capacity for self-determination, while also challenging those who currently wield power to enact changes toward greater social equity.” [3]

Learn More:


[1] Springtide Resources. (2008). An integrated anti-oppression framework for reviewing and developing policy: A toolkit for community service organizations. Retrieved from


[2] University of Victoria. (2018, April 19). Anti-oppressive practices. Retrieved from https://www.antiviolenceproject.org/info/anti-oppressive-practices

[3] Wong, H., Yee, J., & Ontario Child Welfare Anti-Oppression Roundtable. (2010, August). An anti-oppression framework for child welfare in Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.oacas.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Framework.pdf


“Anti-racism is an active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism as well as the oppression and injustice racism causes. Anti-racism is an action-oriented strategy which mobilizes the skills and knowledge of racialized people in order to work for a redistribution of power in organizations and society.” [1]

“To be effective, the Anti–Racism Strategies must be results-oriented and must produce long term, sustainable change that will withstand the test of time, and any change in political power.” [2]


[1] Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough. (n.d.). Racism 101 definitions. 

[2] Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). (2019, January). Proposed framework for a new anti-racism strategy for Canada. Retrieved from http://www.ocasi.org/sites/default/files/PROPOSED_COP-COC_FRAMEWORK_for_Anti-Racism_Strategy_Jan_2019_0.pdf


“Discrimination or violence against Jews, Judaism and the cultural, intellectual and religious heritage of Jewish people leading to social, economic, institutional, religious, cultural or political discrimination. The word Semite literally refers to any of the peoples supposed to be descended from Shem, son of Noah, especially the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians and Phoenicians. However, Anti-Semitism is mostly used to refer to prejudice, discrimination, and violence directed at Jews.” [1]


[1] Springtide Resources. (2008). An integrated anti-oppression framework for reviewing and developing policy: A toolkit for community service organizations. Retrieved from http://www.oaith.ca/assets/files/Publications/Intersectionality/integrated-tool-for-policy.pdf

Armed Violence

“Armed Violence refers to the use or threatened use of weapons to inflict injury, death, or psychosocial harm.” [1] “In Canadian households, the presence of firearms in the home is the single greatest risk factor for lethality of domestic violence. Firearms cause harm to Canadian women in a variety of ways. Access to a firearm in the home closely correlates with risk of completed suicide and homicide. Firearm use is prevalent in spousal murder-suicides… Rural women are particularly vulnerable to homicide by firearms. Shotguns and rifles commonly kept in rural homes have been referred to as ‘the weapons of choice’ when it comes to domestic violence by the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs. In violent homes, these weapons have been used to intimidate and control women living in rural areas.” [2]

Learn More:


[1] UNICEF. (2011). Linking security system reform and armed violence reduction. 

[2] Canadian Women's Foundation. (2018). Gun control & violence prevention. Retrieved from https://www.canadianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Canadian-Womens-Foundation-Submission-to-SECU-re-Bill-C-71.pdf


An unlawful act aggression, with or without a weapon, in which a person applies or threatens force upon another person without their consent. [1]

“Assault” is defined under the Canadian Criminal Code, Section 265 as follows:

265 (1) A person commits an assault when

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or

(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs. [1]

Learn More:


 [1] Criminal Code, RSC, 1985, c. C-46. s. 265. Retrieved from: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-46/section-265.html


“Audism can be defined as the devaluation of people who are Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. An example of this would be assuming that sign language is an inferior language and/or the cultural ways of Deaf people are somehow inferior.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Lalonde, D., & Baker, L. (2019). Women with disabilities and D/deaf women, housing, and violence. Learning Network Issue 27. London, Ontario: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. ISBN # 978-1-988412-28-3. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-7/index.html

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