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.


Parental Alienation

While there is no universal definition, the term parental alienation is used to describe “when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent.” [1]

However, when a parent is concerned about their child’s safety due to a history of child maltreatment or intimate partner violence, their attempts to protect their children can be mislabeled as “alienation.” The misuse of the term parental alienation can mislead the court and endanger survivors and their children. [2]

Learn More:



[1] Parental alienation. (n.d.) Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. 

[2] Neilson, L. (2018). Parental alienation empirical analysis: Child best interests or parental rights? Vancouver: The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children. Retrieved from https://www.fredacentre.com/report-parental-alienation-empiricalanalysis-neilson-2018/

Partner Assault Response (PAR) programs

“A component of Ontario’s Domestic Violence Court program, PARS are specialized counseling and educational services offered by community-based agencies to people who have assaulted their partners.” [1] “Everyone convicted of assaulting a partner in Ontario must go through a PAR program.” [2] “PAR programs aim to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable for their behaviour. The program gives offenders the opportunity to examine their beliefs and attitudes towards domestic abuse, and to learn non-abusive ways of resolving conflict. During weekly group counselling sessions, offenders discuss their beliefs and behaviours, healthy relationships and techniques for defusing violence.” [2] “While an offender is in the PAR program, staff offer the victim help with safety planning, referrals to community resources, and information about the offender's progress.” [1]


[1] Family Service Toronto. (2017). Partner Assault Response. Retrieved from https://familyservicetoronto.org/our-services/programs-and-services/partner-assault-response/

[2] Mouton, J., & Changing Ways. (2014, March 04). Ontario eyes putting 22% more men through the program. 


“A social system in which men are the primary authority figure, central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Minerson, Todd, H. Carolo, T. Dinner, C. Jones. (2011). Issue brief: Engaging men and boys to reduce and prevent gender-based violence. Status of Women Canada. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiqubD_kcLlAhUDhOAKHfDyDS0QFjAAegQIBhAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.whiteribbon.ca%2Fuploads%2F1%2F1%2F3%2F2%2F113222347%2Fwrc_swc_issuebrief.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2FEb4gFUPD1x_4UlIvhip6

People of Colour

“Any person who is not White or [Indigenous]. This term was first adopted in the United States by racialized people who were trying to name themselves with a positive identity, rather than as non-whites, coloured, ethnics, or racial minorities.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Springtide Resources. (2008). An integrated anti-oppression framework for reviewing and developing policy: A toolkit for community service organizations. Retrieved from http://www.springtideresources.org/sites/all/files/Anti-Oppression_Framework_Community_Org_Toolkit.pdf


“A perpetrator is a person, group, or institution that directly inflicts, supports and condones violence or other abuse against a person or a group of persons. Perpetrators are in a position of real or perceived power, decision-making and/or authority and can thus exert control over their victims.” [1]

Perpetrators of violence come from various age, socio-economic, cultural, sexual orientation, ethnic, and religious demographics. Perpetrators of domestic violence are most commonly male. [2]


[1] PSI. (2016, June). Evidence series: Gender-based violence. 

[2] World Health Organization. (2012). Understanding and addressing violence against women: Intimate partner violence. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/77432/WHO_RHR_12.36_eng.pdf

Physical Abuse

“Physical abuse is the most obvious kind of [gender-based violence], but it is not the most common and is not necessarily the most serious. It is the intentional infliction of pain or injury by slapping, shoving, punching, strangling, kicking, burning, stabbing and/or shooting; using a weapon or other objects to threaten, hurt or kill; abducting a woman or keeping her imprisoned.” [1]


[1] Luke’s Place. (n.d.) What is Woman Abuse. Retrieved from: https://lukesplace.ca/resources/what-is-woman-abuse/

Political Violence

Political violence refers to a “situation associated with politics in some way in which force is used as a means of inflicting harm on others.” [1] It is important to take a gendered approach to understanding political violence which means taking into consideration that political structures (e.g. states, institutions) are organized according to “gendered arrangements of masculinist power and privilege.” [1]

Learn more:



[1] Ortbals, C., & Poloni-Staudinger, L. (2018). How Gender Intersects with Political Violence and Terrorism. Oxford Research Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://oxfordre.com/politics/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-308


“Experiencing more than one type of victimization during one life stage (e.g. sexual, physical and emotional abuse in childhood).” [1]

Repeated victimization and poly-victimization are distinct from, but can be involved in, revictimization. For example, a girl may experience emotional and physical abuse (i.e. poly-victimization) throughout her childhood from a caregiver (i.e. repeated victimization) and later as a teen experience bullying by a peer (i.e. revictimization), and then as an adult experience intimate partner violence (i.e. revictimization) in the form of sexual and physical abuse (i.e. poly-victimization) multiple times (i.e. repeated victimization).” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Baker, L., & Etherington, N. (2017, April). Links Between the Maltreatment of Girls and Later Victimization or Use of Violence. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-20/Newsletter_Issue_20_11.pdf


“The study of the cultures of countries and regions, especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, whose histories are marked by colonialism, anti-colonial movements, and the transition to independence during the 20th century, and the study of their present-day influence on the societies and cultures of former colonizers.” [1]

This perspective may also analyze “issues of ‘otherness’, hybridity, national and ethnic identity, race, imperialism, and language both during and after colonial times.” [1]


[1] Oxford Reference. (n.d.). Postcolonialism (postcoloniality, postcolonial theory). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199587261.001.0001/acref-9780199587261-e-0543

Post-Separation Violence

“One of the most serious and troubling issues for many women who have left an abusive relationship is the misapprehension held by many professionals in the family court system that the abuse ends at the time of separation. In fact, post-separation violence – any tactics used by an abuser that stop a woman from leaving, retaliate for her departure or force her return – can have significant long-term consequences and can even result in death.

The initial period of separation, when the violence continues and possibly escalates, is also when separated couples are the most likely to be involved in difficult and contested family court proceedings. These proceedings can take on a deadly tone for families where there has been a history of woman abuse.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Cross, P. (2012).  It Shouldn’t Be This Hard: Family law, family court and violence against women.  Learning Network Brief 1.  London, Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children.  Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/briefs/brief-01.html

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

“Women who have experienced trauma can develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are three categories of PTSD symptoms

Intrusive re-experiencing: Symptoms in which the trauma victim re-experiences traumatic events or feelings in ways that intrude on everyday life. Flashbacks and traumatic nightmares are vivid recollections of the trauma or an aspect of the trauma. During a flashback, one may see, hear or smell aspects of the trauma, or may have bodily sensations or body memories connected to the trauma. People who have flashbacks can feel as if they are going crazy or are out of control. Flashbacks are actually the brain’s attempt to integrate the traumatic material. Until this is accomplished, flashbacks can be extremely disruptive to one’s daily life.

Avoidance: Avoiding things or situations associated with the trauma – Following a trauma, individuals may avoid certain things that have become associated with the trauma; for example, a place or an activity. This can generalize to other things and leave someone feeling quite constricted in their life.

Hyperarousal: Individuals may always feel on edge or as if they have to be aware of everything around them. Individuals may suffer from insomnia or persistent restlessness.” [1]


[1] Women's College Hospital. (n.d.). Mental Health Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/health-centres/mental-health/trauma/signs-and-symptoms/

Power/Power Imbalance

In its simplest sense, power entails the capacity of an individual (or group) to influence the behaviour of others, even against opposition or resistance. [1] As a social relation, this capacity may be exercised through many different forms, such as authority, coercion, status, the control over resources, or through the leverage afforded by social institutions, policies, norms, ideologies, etc.  As a result, power imbalances may occur at the level of individual interactions (such as between intimate partners), and/or as a direct result of “historic, social, economic, and political events.” [2]

Depending on the degree of mutuality and consensus (or, on the other hand, manipulation or coercion) within a given context, power may be seen as a more or less productive or destructive force, capable of both realizing and repressing the interests of individuals or groups.  Advocates for gender equity and social justice aim to empower individuals and communities by seeking to replace existing power imbalances with power relations that are based on fairness, consent, and mutual respect.


[1] Walliman, I., Tatsis, N., & Zito, G. (1977). On Max Weber’s definition of power. The Australian and New Zealand journal of sociology. 13(3): 231-235. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/144078337701300308

[2] Canadian Race Relations Foundation. (n.d.). CRRF glossary of terms. Retrieved from https://www.crrf-fcrr.ca/en/resources/glossary-a-terms-en-gb-1

Power and Control Wheel

The Power and Control wheel was developed by The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project pertaining to heterosexual couples and was later adapted by different groups. The wheel identifies power and control as the main cause of abusive behaviors and highlights different coercive techniques used by perpetrators of partner abuse.

Power and Control Wheels:


“Prejudice means literally to pre-judge.” [1] “Prejudice encompasses positive or negative attitudes toward a person or group, formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge, which will not be likely to change in spite of new evidence or contrary arguments. Frequently prejudices are not recognized as false or unsound assumptions or stereotypes, and, through repetition, become accepted as common sense notions.” [1] “When backed with power, prejudice results in acts of discrimination and oppression against groups or individuals.” [2]


[1] Canadian Race Relations Foundation. (n.d.). CRRF Glossary of Terms. Retrieved from https://www.crrf-fcrr.ca/en/resources/glossary-a-terms-en-gb-1

[2] Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. (n.d.). Myth of Reverse Racism. Retrieved from http://www.aclrc.com/myth-of-reverse-racism


“Approaches and activities to prevent the likelihood of a health-related state or event impacting individuals and communities. There are several types of prevention, which include Primordial, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. 

Primordial Prevention: Prevention of risk factors, beginning with change in social and environmental conditions in which these factors are observed to develop

Primary Prevention: Prevention of disease or injury before it occurs. Occurs by preventing exposures to hazards that cause disease or injury, altering unhealthy or unsafe behaviours that can lead to disease or injury, and increasing resistance to disease or injury should exposure occur.

Secondary Prevention: Secondary prevention aims to reduce the impact of a disease or injury that has already occurred. This is done by detecting and treating disease or injury as soon as possible to halt or slow its progress, encouraging personal strategies to prevent re-injury or recurrence, and implementing programs to return people to their original health and function to prevent long-term problems.

Tertiary Prevention: Tertiary prevention aims to soften the impact of an ongoing illness or injury that has lasting effects. This is done by helping people manage long-term, often-complex health problems and injuries (e.g. chronic diseases, permanent impairments) in order to improve as much as possible their ability to function, their quality of life and their life expectancy.” [1] 


[1] Institute for Work and Health. (2015, April). Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. 


“Systemic advantages based on certain characteristics that are celebrated by society and preserved through its institutions. In North America, these can include being white, having money, being heterosexual, not having a disability, etc. Frequently people are unaware that these characteristics should be understood as privileges as they are so effectively normalized.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. (2017). Campus toolkit for building consent culture. Retrieved from https://cfsontario.ca/campaigns/gender-based-violence/

Protective Factors

“Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that, when present, promote wellbeing and reduce the risk for negative outcomes. These factors may “buffer” the effect of risk exposure and, importantly, may help individuals and families negotiate difficult circumstances and fare better in school, work, and life.” [1] 

Learn More:



[1] Development Services Group, Inc., & Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2015). Promoting protective factors for victims of child abuse and neglect: A guide for practitioners. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Aministration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/victimscan.pdf

Publication Ban

“A publication ban is an order the Court makes that prevents anyone from publishing, broadcasting, or sending any information that could identify a victim, witness, or other person who participates in the criminal justice system. The publication ban is intended to allow victims, witnesses, and others to participate in the justice system without suffering negative consequences.” [1]

The Court can order a publication ban for a number of reasons such as:

  • encouraging witnesses who are afraid to testify;
  • protecting vulnerable witnesses, including children and victims of crime;
  • encouraging victims and others to report offences that are usually under-reported, such as sexual offences; and
  • protecting the privacy of justice system participants. [1]

The law does not require the Court or prosecutor to inform a victim-complainant that a ban has been placed on their identity, resulting in many being unaware a ban is in place or any of the legal repercussions for breaching the ban. [2]

“When unwanted, these restrictions are paternalistic, prevent a victim-complainant from exercising freedom of expression, and reinforce shame and the notion that anonymity always equals protection.” [2]

The amendment to Criminal Code Section 486.4 ensures that no victim-complainant can be unwillingly silenced due to an unwanted publication ban. [2]

Learn More:


[1] Department of Justice Canada. (2021). Publication Bans. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/victims-victimes/factsheets-fiches/publication.html

[2] My Voice My Choice. (2023). My Voice My Choice.