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.



“Calling in” is a practice that seeks accountability for social harms by engaging with the person(s) who committed the harm in a process of restorative or transformative justice.  It is generally understood in contrast to “calling out,” which also aims to generate accountability, but does so by focusing on identifying and generally criticizing a culprit for the harm they have caused.

“Calling in is speaking up without tearing down. A call-in can happen publicly or privately, but its key feature is that it’s done with love. Instead of shaming someone who’s made a mistake, we can patiently ask questions to explore what was going on and why the speaker chose their harmful language. 

Call-ins are agreements between people who work together to consciously help each other expand their perspectives. They encourage us to recognize our requirements for growth, to admit our mistakes and to commit to doing better. Calling in cannot minimize harm and trauma already inflicted, but it can get to the root of why the injury occurred, and it can stop it from happening again.” [1]


[1] Ross, L. (2019). Speaking up without tearing down. Learning for Justice. Retrieved from https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/spring-2019/speaking-up-without-tearing-down

Caregiver Violence

Violence perpetrated by paid or unpaid individuals who provide help with daily activities and support. Caregivers can be family, personal support workers, home support worker, housekeepers, and respite workers. Caregiver violence can come in multiple forms including sexual abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, and neglect. Women who are older and women living with disabilities may be particularly targeted for caregiver violence.

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Child Abduction

“In Canada the most common form of child abduction is by a parent or guardian.” [1] “Parental child abduction occurs when one parent, without either legal authority or the permission of the other parent, takes a child from the parent who has lawful custody. There may be both international and domestic aspects to child abduction. Although children may not be in physical danger, their lives are nevertheless greatly disrupted. They are deprived by the abducting parent of security, stability and continuity in their lives.” [2] 

Learn More:


[1] Canadian Centre for Child Protection. (2019). Parental child abduction. Retrieved from https://missingkids.ca/en/how-can-we-help/parental-child-abduction/

[2] Department of Justice. (2015, August 31). Parental child abduction. Retrieved from https://www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca/eng/pub/fpsd-sfpg/fps-sfp/tpd/p5/ch10.html

Child Exposure to Domestic Violence

“Children can be exposed in a number of ways including seeing [domestic violence], hearing it, seeing the aftermath, or being told about it.” [1] “Research has indicated that exposure to DV can suppress a child’s IQ, lead to premature aging, and influence the functioning of the brain’s emotional systems in ways that can increase vulnerability to psychopathology. Research also showed that exposure to family violence (i.e., domestic violence and child maltreatment) was associated with heightened neural activity in children’s brains similar to that of soldiers exposed to violent combat situations.” [2] “Children who witness violence between parents may also be at greater risk of being violent in their future relationships or being victims of violence in their future relationships. The impact of being exposed to woman abuse on children varies depending on the child’s age and development stage but also on the individual child and the circumstances of their exposure.” [3]

Learn More:


[1] Baker, L., & Cunningham, A. (2007). How violence against a mother shapes children as they grow. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/migration/phac-aspc/sfv-avf/sources/fem/fem-2007-lele-pypo/pdf/fem-2007-lele-pypo-eng.pdf

[2] Baker, L., and Campbell, M. (2012). Exposure to Domestic Violence and its Effect on Children’s Brain Development and Functioning. Learning Network Brief (2). London, Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/briefs/brief-02.html

[3] Luke's Place. (2018, April 17). How can a woman make the court understand the impact on her children of the abuse she has been subjected to? Retrieved from https://lukesplace.ca/showing-court-the-impact-of-woman-abuse-on-children/


Child Maltreatment

Child maltreatment, sometimes called child abuse, “includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse. It also includes neglect, and any violence that children see or hear in their families. ­e person who abuses the child can be: a parent; a brother or sister; another relative; a caregiver; a guardian; a teacher; or another professional or volunteer who works with children (for example, a doctor or coach).” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Department of Justice Canada. (2017). Child abuse is wrong: What can I do? Cat. No. J2-369/2016E-PDF. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/caw-mei/index.html


“Cisnormativity (‘cis’ meaning ‘the same as’) refers to the commonplace assumption that all people are cisgender and that everyone accepts this as “the norm”. The term cisnorma­tivity is used to describe systemic prejudice against trans. This form of systemic prejudice may go unrecognized by the people or orga­nizations responsible.” [1]

Learn More:


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


“Any practices and beliefs that judge and value people according to their social class, or the social class that other people assume they belong to.” [1] This may include practices that judge or value people (positively or negatively) according to the class position they occupy (or are believed to occupy), as well as norms, language, or policies that have the effect of reinforcing class hierarchy and wealth inequality.


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

Coercive Control

“Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.” [1]

“This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behavior... Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action.” [1]


[1] Women's Aid. (n.d.). What is coercive control?. Retrieved from https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/what-is-domestic-abuse/coercive-control/

Collective Healing

Collective healing in the context of addressing collective trauma is “a cultural, political, social, and physical process of acknowledging wrongdoing/hardship and beginning an active process of accountability, restoration of resources, and repair of the harm done.” [1]

Learn More:



[1] Center for Hunger-Free Communities. (2021, July 7).  A Look at Collective Trauma and

Collective Healing. Drexel University. Retrieved from https://drexel.edu/hunger-free-center/news-events/voices-blog/2021/July/collective-trauma/

Collective Trauma

“Collective trauma refers to a traumatic event that is shared by a group of people. It may involve a small group, like a family, or it may involve an entire society.

People don’t necessarily need to have experienced the event first-hand in order to be changed by it.

Traumatic experiences may cause a massive shift in the way people in a culture behave, feel, work together, and raise their children.” [1]


[1] Morin, A. (2020). How Collective Trauma Impacts Your Health. Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/effects-of-collective-trauma-5071346

Collective Violence

“The instrumental use of violence by people who identify themselves as members of a group – whether this group is transitory or has a more permanent identity – against another group or set of individuals, in order to achieve political, economic or social objectives.” [1]

“Various forms of collective violence have been recognized, including: wars, terrorism and other violent political conflicts that occur within or between states; state-perpetrated violence such as genocide, repression, disappearances, torture and other abuses of human rights; (and) organized violent crime such as banditry and gang warfare.” [1]


[1] World Health Organization. (2014). Chapter 8: Collective violence. World report on Violence and health. P. 215. 

Collective Wellbeing

Collective wellbeing is “the combination of social, economic, environmental, cultural, and political conditions identified by individuals and their communities as essential for them to flourish and fulfill their potential.” [1]

Learn More:



[1] Earl E. Bakken Centre for Spirituality & Healing. (n.d.). What is Community Wellbeing?

University of Minnesota. Retrieved from


Colonial Trauma

Colonial trauma is described as “a complex, continuous, collective, cumulative and compounding interaction of impacts related to the imposition of colonial policies and practices which continue to separate Indigenous Peoples from their land, languages, cultural practices, and one another.” [1]

Colonial trauma is a framework used to identity the links between “persistent health disparities, the traumagenic nature of colonialism and the right of self-determination.” [1]

Learn More:

Webinar – Indigenous Perspectives of Healing from PTSD – Learning Network and Knowledge Hub

Webinar - Strategies for Working with Indigenous Individuals Experiencing Trauma – Learning Network and Knowledge Hub

Webinar - Trauma-Informed Interventions through an Indigenous Worldview – Learning Network and Knowledge Hub


[1] Mitchell, T., Arseneau, C., & Thomas, D. (2019). Colonial Trauma: Complex, continuous, collective, cumulative and compounding effects on the health of Indigenous peoples in Canada and beyond. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 14(2). Retrieved from  https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/ijih/article/view/32251/25279


“Colonialism is defined as a policy or set of policies and practices where a political power from one territory exerts control in a different territory. It involves unequal power relations. Colonialism and its bigger brother, imperialism, flourished between the late 1400s and the 1800s as European countries took over the Americas, Africa and most of Asia, mostly to gain access to resources such as gold, silver, furs and fish. Canada experienced settler colonialism as Europeans aggressively took lands from Indigenous peoples and over time displaced and then greatly outnumbered them. Settlement by Europeans began first on the east coast of Canada. Colonialism in Canada may be best understood as Indigenous peoples’ forced disconnection from land, culture and community by another group. It has its roots in Canada’s history but it is alive and well today, too.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] FemNorthNet. (2016). Colonialism and its impacts. Resource development in Northern communities: Local women matter. Fact Sheet #3. Ottawa: Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.  Retrieved from  http://fnn.criaw-icref.ca/images/userfiles/files/LWM3_ColonialismImpacts.pdf

Community Policing

“Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. Community policing comprises three key components: community partnerships, organizational transformation, and problem-solving.” [1]

In the context of domestic violence, “domestic violence police units network and liaise with local shelters, community/government agencies, the Crown, probation and parole services, victim witness assistance programs, local Children’s Aid Societies, and other local services and community representatives responsible for responding to issues relating to domestic violence occurrences.” [2]


[1] Public Safety Canada. (2014). Community policing defined. Retrieved from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/lbrr/archives/cnmcs-plcng/cn32080-eng.pdf
[2] Hamilton Police Service. (2018, March 29). Domestic violence. Retrieved from https://hamiltonpolice.on.ca/about/chiefs-office/organizational-structure/community-policing/investigative-services/domestic

Compassion Fatigue

“[A] state of exhaustion and dysfunction biologically, psychologically, and socially as a result of prolonged exposure to compassion stress and all it invokes.” [1] It is sometimes referred to as secondary traumatic stress.


[1] Figley, C.R. (1995). Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. Bristol, PA: Brunner/Mazel, p.253.

Complex Trauma

“Most people with trauma-related problems have experienced multiple traumas. The term, complex trauma describes exposure to multiple traumas. It also refers to the impacts of that exposure. Complex trauma is usually interpersonal; involves ‘being or feeling’ trapped; is often planned, extreme, ongoing and/or repeated; often has more severe, persistent and cumulative impacts; involves challenges with shame, trust, self-esteem, identity and regulating emotions; has different coping strategies which include alcohol and drug use, self-harm, over- or under-eating, over-work etc.; affects emotional and physical health, wellbeing, relationships and daily functioning. Complex trauma commonly occurs with repeated trauma against a child; however, complex trauma is not always the result of childhood trauma. It can also occur as a result of adults’ experience of violence in the community e.g. domestic and family violence, civil unrest, war trauma or genocide, refugee and asylum seeker trauma, sexual exploitation and trafficking, extreme medical trauma and/or re-traumatization.” [1]


[1] National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma. (n.d.). Definition of complex trauma versus single incident.


“When it comes to sexual assault, consent is defined as the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. In other words, you must actively and willingly give consent to sexual activity. Any type of sexual activity without consent is sexual assault.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Ontario Government. (n.d.) Let’s stop sexual harassment and violence.
Retrieved from https://www.ontario.ca/page/lets-stop-sexual-harassment-and-violence


Consent Culture

Consent culture is “a culture in which the prevailing narrative of sex is centered on mutual consent.” [1]

“It is a culture that does not force anyone into anything, respects bodily autonomy and is based on the belief that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs.” [1]

“Consent to any activity is ongoing, freely given, informed and enthusiastic.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. (2017). Campus Toolkit for Creating Consent Culture. Retrieved from https://cfsontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Consent-Toolkit.pdf

Coordinated Community Response

“The implementation of new laws and policies is most effective when paired with the development of a community-wide strategy that ensures all members of the community respond in a consistent way to violence against women and can be held accountable for their responses. Coordinated community response (CCR) programs engage the entire community in efforts to develop a common understanding of violence against women and to change social norms and attitudes that contribute to violence against women. Law enforcement, civil society, health care providers, child protection services, educators, local businesses, the media, employers, and faith leaders should be involved in a coordinated community response.” [1]


[1] UN Women. (2010). What is a coordinated community response to violence against women? Retrieved from http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/127-what-is-a-coordinated-community-response-to-violence-against-women.html

Coping Strategy/Mechanisms

“Coping mechanisms can also be described as ‘survival skills’. They are strategies that people use in order to deal with stresses, pain, and natural changes that we experience in life. Coping mechanisms are learned behavioural patterns used to cope. We learn from our lived experiences how to manage our stresses. There are negative coping mechanisms and positive coping mechanisms. Many people use their coping mechanisms to benefit them in a positive way. However, we are not always able to cope with the difficulties that we face.” [1]


[1] Equay-wuk (Sioux Lookout Women's Group). (2019, March). Coping mechanisms. Retrieved from http://www.equaywuk.ca/HFHNDVT/CopingMechanisms.pdf


Criminalization refers to the act of making an activity illegal and/or treating an individual as a criminal. Criminalization in the social context issue often refers to “the criminalization of poverty and the criminalization of people of color as interactive dynamics that perpetuate negative societal stereotypes and perceptions such that being Black, or being poor, is itself viewed as criminal.” [1]

For instance, criminalization leads to the over-policing of specific individuals and communities and the harmful outcomes that come from such policing such as “harassment, expulsion from school, use of force, asset forfeiture, questionable searches and seizures, fines, detention, and incarceration.” [1]

Learn More:



[1] YWCA. (March 2017). Backgrounder: What are Criminalization and Racial Profiling? 

Criminal Harassment

Criminal Harassment (stalking) is found in section 264 of the Criminal Code.  It prohibits repeated acts that cause a person to fear for their safety and that may escalate into physical injury or assault. According to the Criminal Code, the intimidating acts may include:

  1. a) repeatedly following a person;
  2. b) repeatedly communicating with a person;
  3. c) repeatedly watching a person’s home or workplace;
  4. d) directly threatening the victim or a person known to the victim. [1]

While many crimes are defined by conduct that results in a very clear physical outcome (for example, murder), the offence of criminal harassment prohibits deliberate conduct that is psychologically harmful to others. Criminal harassment often consists of repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time and that causes its targets to reasonably fear for their safety but does not necessarily result in physical injury. It may be a precursor to subsequent violent and/or lethal acts.” [2] Thus, “If any of [the above] activities causes a person to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone connected to him/her, it is considered to be criminal harassment and is a criminal offence.” [3]

Learn More:


[1] Church-Duplessis, V., Evans, S. Hulays, H., et al. (2017). Drawing the line on sexual violence: A Guide for Ontario educators, grades 9–12. White Ribbon. P. 136. Retrieved from https://www.dtl.whiteribbon.ca/secondary-guide

[2] Department of Justice (2017). A handbook for police and crown prosecutors on criminal harassment. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/har/part1.html

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

Cultural Humility

“Cultural humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.” [1]


[1] First Nations Health Authority. (2016, June). Creating a climate for change. Retrieved from http://www.fnha.ca/Documents/FNHA-Creating-a-Climate-For-Change-Cultural-Humility-Resource-Booklet.pdf

Cyber Misogyny

The term “cyber misogyny” encapsulates the diverse forms of gendered hatred, harassment, and abusive behaviour directed toward women and girls online.  It offers a more nuanced way of describing behaviours often lumped into the catch-all term “cyberbullying” in mainstream discourse.” [1]  The specification of cyber misogyny foregrounds patterns of particularly sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise discriminatory qualities of this behaviour, as well as “the context of power and marginalization in which it occurs.” [1]

Common examples of cyber misogyny include image-based sexual videos (e.g. “revenge porn”), cyberstalking, gender-based hate speech online, child sexual exploitation, and non-consensual sharing of intimate images. [1]

Learn More:


[1] West Coast LEAF. (2014). CyberMisogyny: Using and strengthening Canadian legal responses to gendered hate and harassment online.  Vancouver, BC: West Coast LEAF.  Retrieved from http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014-REPORT-CyberMisogyny.pdf


“The terms ‘cyberstalking’ and ‘online harassment’ are often used to refer to three types of activities: direct communication through e-mail or text messaging; Internet harassment, where the offender publishes offensive or threatening information about the victim on the Internet; and unauthorized use, control or sabotage of the victim’s computer.” [1]

Learn More: 


[1] Department of Justice (2017). A handbook for police and crown prosecutors on criminal harassment. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/har/part1.html

Cycle of Violence

“The cycle of violence looks at the repetitive nature of perpetrator’s actions that hinder a victim’s ability to leave an abusive relationship. The cycle of violence theory provides an insight into this by illustrating how the behaviour of a perpetrator can change very dramatically, making it difficult for the woman to leave. Women who have experienced violence may recognise this cycle. The cycle of violence theory was developed in 1979 by Dr Lenore Walker. It describes the phases an abusive relationship moves through in the lead up to a violent event and its follow-up.” [1]

“In phase 1, tension-building phase, tension between the people in the relationship starts to increase and verbal, emotional or financial abuse occurs. Phase 2, acute explosion, the peak of the violence is reached in this phase. The perpetrator experiences a release of tension and this behaviour may become habitual. Lastly Phase 3 is referred to as the honeymoon stage which is characterized by remorse, pursuit, and denial. During remorse, the perpetrator may start to feel ashamed. They may become withdrawn and try to justify their actions to themselves and others. During the pursuit phase, the perpetrator may promise to never be violent again. They may try to explain the violence by blaming other factors such as alcohol or stress at work. The perpetrator may be very attentive to the person experiencing violence, including buying gifts and helping around the house. It could seem as though the perpetrator has changed. At this point, the person experiencing the violence can feel confused and hurt but also relieved that the violence is over. Both people in the relationship may be in denial about the severity of the abuse and violence. Intimacy can increase during this phase. Both people may feel happy and want the relationship to continue, so they may not acknowledge the possibility that the violence could happen again.” [1]


[1] White Ribbon. (n.d.). What is the cycle of violence? 
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