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.


Safe Home

A safe home is a private residence which provides temporary accommodation for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. A safe home helps to promote the safety of survivors and any dependents until long-term safe housing arrangements can be made for the survivor. [1]

Safe homes are often found in small and remote communities where shelters and transition homes do not usually exist. Safe home programs often partner with other organizations to provide a wide range of services for women and children (e.g. counselling, advocacy, mental health supports). [2]


[1] Sullivan, C. M., López-Zerón, G., Farero, A., Ayeni, O. O., Simmons, C., Chiaramonte, D.,

Guerrero, M., Hamdan, N., & Sprecher, M. (2022). Impact of the Domestic Violence Housing

First Model on Survivors’ Safety and Housing Stability: Six Month Findings. Journal of Family

Violence. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-022-00381-x

[2] Research and Corporate Planning Department. (2011). Understanding Women’s Safe Home Programs in BC. BC Housing. Retrieved from https://www.bchousing.org/publications/Understanding-Womens-Safe-Home-Programs-BC.pdf

Safety Planning/Safety Plan

“Victim/survivor safety planning refers to the process of supporting or empowering victims/survivors in developing strategies to increase their safety. Safety planning should always be done in collaboration with the victim/survivor. The victim/survivor constantly navigates her safety and is often the most knowledgeable about the danger she faces. Consistent with the principles of domestic violence risk management, safety plans should be tailored to the victim/survivor’s circumstances and developed to suit her individual needs. Safety plans must take into account the realities of each victim/survivor given that many of them face major barriers to putting safety plans in place due to the lack of available, accessible, acceptable, affordable, and appropriate services. A wide range of victim services, mental health, social service, human resource, law enforcement, and security professionals may engage in safety planning. If a team is involved in managing risk for violence, one member of the team should be designated as the victim/survivor liaison. As with domestic violence risk management, professionals engaging in comprehensive safety planning require the appropriate training and experience. Consistent with domestic violence risk management, victim/survivor safety planning involves improving both static and dynamic security. With respect to static security, victims/survivors may collaborate with victim support workers to identify security improvements that could be made to where she lives, works and travels. For instance, improvements could be made to visibility by adding lights, altering gardens or landscapes, ensuring proximity between parking locations and workplace entrances, employing security personnel, and installing video cameras. Access could be restricted by adding or improving entry systems, door locks, and security checkpoints. Alarms could be installed, or victims/survivors could be provided with personal alarms. In some cases, it is impossible to ensure the safety of victim/survivor in a particular site and the victim/survivor may consider extreme measures such as relocation of her residence or workplace. Shelters and counseling agencies specializing in violence against women can provide direct services and linkages to other services.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. (2012). Domestic violence risk assessment and management online training course. Retrieved from http://onlinetraining.learningtoendabuse.ca/sites/default/files/lessons/DVRAM%20full-text%20December%202012_1.pdf


“The social, physical, political and economic separation of diverse groups of people, particularly referring to ideological and structural barriers to civil liberties, equal opportunity and participation by minorities within a majority racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic or social group. Segregation may be a mutually voluntary arrangement but more frequently is enforced by the majority group and its institutions.” [1]


[1] Canadian Race Relations Foundation (2015).  CRRF glossary of Terms. 

Self Defense

The Self-Defense Act of Canada states [a] person is not guilty of an offence if they believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person; the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.” [1]

“Most legal definitions of self-defense consider violent conduct on an incident by incident basis. This is a problem in a domestic violence context since domestic violence operates, in pattern and effect, in a cumulative fashion. When people, who have been targeted repeatedly by abuse and violence, ultimately respond themselves with violence, that violence is commonly a reaction to the cumulative effects of prior patterns of abuse and violence in the relationship rather than a response to an immediate, imminent threat. This type of violence will seldom be classified, in law, as self-defense. The problem is compounded by criminal definitions that define crimes of violence as incidents rather than as a pattern of behavior.” [2]


[1] Mackay, R. (2012). Bill C-26: The Citizen’s Arrest and Self-Defence Act. Ottawa: Library of Parliament.

[2] Department of Justice Canada. (2013). Enhancing safety: When domestic violence cases are in multiple legal systems. Cat. No. J2-395/2014E-PDF. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/fl-lf/famil/enhan-renfo/p3.html

Sex Work

“Sex work includes various activities such as soliciting on the street or in other public areas, nude dancing with or without contact, providing erotic massages, visiting or receiving through an escort service, acting in pornographic movies, animating erotic phone or webcam conversations, and offering specific or specialized services like domination or fetishism. Sex work is diverse and may apply to sexual or erotic activities for payment. It therefore goes beyond prostitution, which exclusively describes the exchange of sexual services for payment... The morally charged term, ‘prostitution’, has been associated with deviance, corruption and criminality, and still is today. The use of the terms like ‘prostitution’ and ‘prostitute’, restrict a person’s identity to the activities she engages in. The negative labels or words like ‘prostitute’ and ‘whore’ reduce a person to one dimension: engaging in sexual activities for money… Using the term sex work therefore helps draw a distinction between the economic activity and the person’s identity.” [1]

More recently, there has been a move by some individuals and organizations to use the term “people who do sex work” in order to not reduce individuals to their profession.

Learn More:


[1] Maggie’s Toronto. (2007). Sex work: 14 answers to your questions. 


“Sexism stems from a set of implicit or explicit beliefs, erroneous assumptions and actions based upon an ideology of inherent superiority of one gender over another and may be evident within organizational or institutional structures or programs, as well as within individual thought or behaviour patterns. Sexism is any act or institutional practice, backed by institutional power which subordinates people because of gender. While, in principle, sexism may be practiced by either gender, most of our societal institutions are still the domain of men and usually the impact of sexism is experienced by women.” [1]


[1] Canadian Race Relations Foundation. (n.d.). CRRF Glossary of Terms. 


“‘Sexting’ commonly refers to sending messages that are meant to be sexually exciting through text, email, or social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). ‘Sexting’ can also include sending someone sexual pictures and/or videos. Sharing a sexual/intimate image of yourself or someone else can have big impacts.

If a sexual picture/video is taken, shared or posted online without the permission of the person in the picture/video, it is against Canadian criminal law. For youth under 18 years old, taking and sharing sexual images can also be against the law, even if the youth agrees to have the images shared with others or if the images are of yourself.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Ontario Women’s Justice Network (2019). Sexting and the law about sharing intimate images. Retrieved from http://owjn.org/2019/05/sexting-and-the-law-about-sharing-intimate-images/

Sexual Abuse

“Sexual Abuse is any form of unwanted sexual activity without that person’s consent. This can include forced sexual intercourse (rape), forced pornography or prostitution, childhood sexual abuse, incest, sexual harassment and any unwanted sexual activity including kissing, fondling, touching, oral sex or threatening to do any of these things.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Assault Response & Care Centre. (n.d.). About Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence. Retrieved from https://www.arc-c.ca/about-sexual-assault--domestic-violence-c27.php

Sexual Aggression

“Sexual aggression is defined as the offenders’ act to impose [their] sexual will over another, nonconsenting, person using behaviors such as threats, intimidation, drugs, or physical force. Sexual aggression may happen to any person regardless of [their] socioeconomic status, education, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so forth.” [1]

“Over the years different theories (e.g., feminist, social learning) have proposed explanations as to why sexual aggression is common. Further, a number of techniques have been developed to attempt to treat sex offenders.” [1] 


[1] Papazoglou, K., & Andersen, J. (2016). Sexual aggression. In C. Shehan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Family Studies. Wiley- Blackwell: Hoboken, NJ. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119085621.wbefs340

Sexual Assault

“Any unwanted touching of a sexual nature is sexual assault. This can range from touching of sexual parts of the body to vaginal or anal penetration. As with other assaults, if weapons are involved or there is serious physical injury, the charge can become either sexual assault with a weapon or aggravated sexual assault.” [1]

“[Sexual assault] is an act of power and control over the victim. Sexual assault is a crime of violence because the victim is subjected to the aggression of the assailant. It is not a crime of sex. The feelings associated with sexual assault are disgust, shame, humiliation and powerlessness. It not only violates someone physically but may also affect a person’s sense of safety and ability to control their own life.” [2]

Learn More:


[1] Cross, P. (2016). Criminal Charges in Violence Against Women. Retrieved from https://lukesplace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Criminal-Glossary.pdf

[2] Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. (n.d.). Glossary and Definitions: What Is Sexual Assault? 

Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Centres

“Victims and survivors of sexual assault who are 16 years of age or older are eligible for a variety of counseling, information and referral services from community-based Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Centres (SACs). These services include Accompanying a victim to court, a hospital or police station; supportive peer counseling services (both one-to-one and group); sexual violence education and training for professionals and members of the public; and, information and referral services.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Ontario Association Children's Aid Society. (2015). Ministry of the Attorney General Programs and Services for Victims of Crime in Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.oacas.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/MAG.pdf

Sexual Coercion

“Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens after being pressured in nonphysical ways that include:

  • Being worn down by someone who repeatedly asks for sex
  • Being lied to or being promised things that weren’t true to trick you into having sex
  • Having someone threaten to end a relationship or spread rumors about you if you don’t have sex with them
  • Having an authority figure, like a boss, property manager, loan officer, or professor, use their influence or authority to pressure you into having sex.” [1]

Other “methods of coercion used by perpetrators of sexual violence to exert power and aggression over victims/ survivors include: intimidation and threats; assaultive behaviour or physical force; the use of alcohol or other substances; the use of power imbalances created by social status, position or role, physical size/strength/ ability; persistent pressure to wear down the victim/survivor; and the exploitation of vulnerabilities.” [2]

“In a healthy relationship, you never have to have sexual contact when you don’t want to. Sexual contact without your consent is assault. Sexual coercion means feeling forced to have sexual contact with someone.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Office on Women's Health. (2019, March 14). What is sexual coercion. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/sexual-coercion

[2] Baker, L., Straatman, A., & Campbell, M. (2012). Overcoming Barriers and Enhancing Supportive Responses: The Research on Sexual Violence Against Women. A Resource Document. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/reports/2012-1-eng-LN_Overcoming_Barriers_FINAL.pdf

Sexual Exploitation

“The law considers it to be sexual exploitation for anyone in a position of trust or authority over a young person, to engage in sexual activity with them.  This includes a person on whom the young person is dependent.  A young person is a person 16 years of age or more, but under 18 years. The courts would determine exploitation by the wrongful conduct of the person in the position of trust rather than the consent of the young person. The law also provides for the protection of persons with mental or physical disabilities without any age restrictions.” [1]

Under Section 153 of the Criminal Code of Canada “sexual exploitation” is defined as follows:    

“153 (1) Every person commits an offence who is in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency or who is in a relationship with a young person that is exploitative of the young person, and who

(a) for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of the young person; or

(b) for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a young person to touch, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, the body of any person, including the body of the person who so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the young person.” [2] 



[1] Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick. (2017). No means no: Understanding consent to sexual activity.  p. 5. Retrieved from http://www.legal-info-legale.nb.ca/en/no_means_no.

[2] R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46. Retrieved from: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-153.html

Sexual Harassment

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.” [1]

“(Sexual harassment) can be coercive or subtle in nature. Sexual harassment is an abuse of power and is often used as a way of controlling or intimidating someone. Sexual harassment can happen in schools, universities, workplaces or even on the street.” [2] 

Some examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Threats/intimidation
  • Untrue sexual comments said about a person
  • Remarks about a person’s sexual identity (i.e. gay bashing)
  • Displaying sexist or demeaning pictures [2]

Learn More:


[1] World Health Organization. (2017, March). Sexual exploitation and abuse prevention and response. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/about/ethics/sexual-exploitation_abuse-prevention_response_policy.pdf

[2] Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. (n.d.). Glossary and definitions: What is sexual assault?

Sexual Violence

“Sexual violence is one of many interconnected expressions of violence against women (VAW). Other forms include physical, psychological and economic violence. Like all VAW, sexual violence is not confined by racial, geographical, cultural or community boundaries. Its harmful consequences impoverish women and girls, their families, communities, and nations. This serious systemic social problem is a violation of human rights rooted in persistent discrimination against women.

Sexual Violence…

  • refers to any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality (e.g., childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, drug-facilitated sexual assault, rape during armed conflict, sexual harassment, stalking, sexual cyber harassment, sexual exploitation)
  • is gender-based violence
  • is about exerting power and control over another.” [1]

“Sexual violence includes any act that undermines an individual’s sexual or gender integrity. Forced prostitution, forced marriage (especially of minors), forced cohabitation, forced adoption of a gender role that does not conform to an individual’s identity, trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation also come under this category. Some hate crimes and the more loosely defined “hate incidents” such as those directed at women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, twin-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning (LGBTTTIQQ) individuals are also sexual violence. Sexual violence includes the imposition or elimination of actions related to sexual and reproductive health. Non-availability, withholding or forcing abortion and contraception, not allowing measures to prevent STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and HIV/AIDS, Female Circumcision/ FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), and practices designed to detect whether a woman’s virginity is intact, are all examples of this kind of violence.” [2]

Learn More:


[1] Baker, L., Campbell, M., Barreto, E. (2014). Sexual Violence Awareness. Learning Network Newsletter.  Issue 9.  Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-9/LN_Newsletter_Issue_9_2014_e_version_1.pdf

[2] Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton. (2014). What is Sexual Violence? 

Sibling Violence

“Sibling violence is the physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse of one sibling by another. It is not the everyday squabbles, rivalry, or physical playing between siblings. Sibling violence often involves a power imbalance that makes it difficult for the harmed child to protect or defend themselves.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Tabibi, J., Baker, L., & Lalonde, D. (2017). Sibling violence. Learning Network Issue 21. London, Ontario: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-21/index.html


Simp, an internet slang term, is defined as describing an individual who displays much attention and sympathy towards another person in the hopes of a sexual or affectionate relationship. Often, the other individual does not share the same feelings. [1]

The term is often used in misogynistic ways to shame men and boys who treat women with respect and kindness.


[1] María, A. (2021, January 27). Here’s why people are calling each other ‘simps’ online. The Daily Dot. Retrieved from https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/what-does-simp-mean-meme/

Social Determinants of Health

“The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.” [1]


[1] World Health Organization. (2017, September 25). About social determinants of health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/social_determinants/sdh_definition/en/

Social Exclusion

“Social Exclusion describes a process by which certain groups are systematically disadvantaged because they are discriminated against on the bases of their ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, caste, descent, gender, age, disability, HIV status, migrant status or where they live.  Discrimination occurs in public institutions, such as the legal system or education and health services, as well as social institutions like the household.” [1]


[1] Public Service Alliance of Canada. (2006). 

Social Justice

Social justice is about: “transforming the way resources and relationships are produced and distributed so that all can live dignified lives in a way that is ecologically sustainable. It is also about creating new ways of thinking and being and not only criticizing the status quo.” [1]


[1] Potts, K. & Brown, L. (2005). Becoming an anti-oppressive researcher. In L. Brown & S. Strega (Eds.), Research as resistance: Critical, Indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches. Pp. 255–268. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Social Location

A geographical metaphor for thinking about the context in which each individual encounters the systems, institutions, power relations, and history of their society. These encounters are often patterned around the social groups to which people belong—and thus pertain to the identities they hold as members of those groups. “All people have a social location that is defined by their gender, race, social class, age, ability, religion, sexual orientation, and geographic location. Each group membership confers a certain set of social roles and rules, power, and privilege (or lack of), which heavily influence our identity and how we see the world.” [1]

Learn More:



[1] Dick, S., Hunt-Humchitt, S., John, R., Kelly, E., Morris, J., Smith, L.,Voyageur, E. Gillie, J. (n.d.). Glossary. Cultural Safety: Module 2. Peoples’ Experiences of Oppression

Spiritual Abuse

“Spiritual abuse includes using a person's religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate or control them. It may also include preventing someone from engaging in spiritual or religious practices or ridiculing their beliefs.” [1]


[1] Justice Canada. (2002). Spousal Abuse: A Fact Sheet. P. 2. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/J2-289-2002E.pdf

Spousal Abuse

“Physical, sexual, financial, and/or psychological abuse that a [person] may experience at the hands of a current or former marital, common-law or same-sex partner.  Spousal abuse may happen at any time during a relationship, including while it is breaking down, or after it has ended.” [1]


[1] Justice Canada. (2002). Spousal Abuse: A Fact Sheet. P. 1. Retrieved from https://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/J2-289-2002E.pdf


“Stalking is defined as repeated and unwanted attention that causes a person to fear for their personal safety or for the safety of someone they know, a definition which qualifies as criminal harassment under the Criminal Code of Canada (s. 264). While stalking, by definition, makes someone feel unsafe, it can take the form of actions that do not include overt threats of physical violence. Examples include threats to divulge sensitive personal information and unwanted romantic advances that make the person feel unsafe, despite not including threats of physical harm. Stalking can encompass a range of behaviours, such as someone waiting outside a person’s home, school or work, physical or electronic surveillance, damage to property and various kinds of unwanted communication, as further outlined in the Criminal Code (ss. 372(2) and (3)). Stalking often involves a pattern of repeated behaviour, as opposed to one occurrence of a harassing phone call, email, or other action.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Burczycka, M. (2016). Stalking in Canada, 2014. Statistics Canada. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2018001/article/54893/01-eng.htm

State Violence

“State violence is the use of legitimate governmental authority to cause unnecessary harm and suffering to groups, individuals, and states. State violence stems from the desire of official state actors to reach the organizational goals of a state or governmental agency. The goals may be implicit or explicit and are often related to building or preserving hegemony and control, racial and ethnic exclusivity, imperialism, or facilitating the accumulation of capital or scarce resources such as oil.

The most common forms of state violence are human rights violations, crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, torture, prisoner abuse, and the oppression of racial, ethnic, gender, religious, or political minorities. These acts are prohibited by several international laws and agreements (e.g., the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva and Genocide Conventions) and some domestic legal codes” (such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).” [1]


[1] Kauzlarich, D. (2008). State violence. Encyclopedia of interpersonal violence. Renzetti, C. & Edleson (eds.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc. Retrieved from http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/violence/n499.xml


“Stealthing is the non-consensual act of removing a condom during sex. One partner stealthily removes the condom without the other noticing. Another form of stealthing is putting holes in the condoms to attempt non-consensual pregnancy. Stealthing is against the law and is defined as rape or sexual assault. Removing condoms during sexual intercourse increases the risks of unwanted pregnancy, transmission of sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs), and it can cause emotional and psychological distress to those affected.” [1]


[1] Trent University. (n.d.) Stealthing.  Retrieved from https://www.trentu.ca/sexualviolence/resources/stealthing


“Stereotypes are taken to mean simplistic and uncritical judgements of people based on such characteristics as gender, age, race, ethnicity and skin colour ascribing to them attributes learnt early in life from society.” [1] “As such, there is a tendency to believe in the ‘correctness’ or ‘truth’ of the judgements with disregard for evidence to the contrary. Stereotypes not only serve to categorize, organize and simplify the amount of complex information that we receive, they also operate to essentialize people – attributing sameness to them, as well as evaluating and generalizing about them as a group. 

In Canada, stereotyping is practised in a context informed by a multicultural discourse that tends to mask the fact that race, ethnicity, language, accent, religion and other demographic factors are used to ascribe particular cultural practices to various members of society.” [2]


[1] Paul, A.M. (1998). Where bias begins: The truth about stereotypes. Psychology Today, pp. 52-56. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/articles/199805/where-bias-begins-the-truth-about-stereotypes

[2] James, C. (n.d.). Stereotyping and its consequence for racial minority youth. Ontario Human Rights Commission Race Policy Dialogue Papers. Retrieved from http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/race-policy-dialogue-papers/stereotyping-and-its-consequence-racial-minority-youth


Strangulation involves “the physical act of applying external force to the neck area and cutting off oxygen flow to and away from the brain. This is very different from choking, which involves an object, like a piece of food, being trapped inside the throat… Strangulation, especially in the context of intimate partner violence, is an intentional and deliberate act that somebody does to someone else.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] WomenatthecentrE. (2016). A fresh breath: Examining the experience of strangulation among women abused by an intimate partner. Retrieved from https://www.womenatthecentre.com/wp-content/uploads/A-Fresh-Breath-Executive-Summary-2016.pdf

Strength-Based Approaches

Strength-based approaches focus on individuals’ strengths rather than on their deficits. Strengths can include personal, social, and community networks. Strengths-based practice is a holistic approach that empowers the individual by working with them to promote their wellbeing and encourage further positive development. [1]

Learn More:


[1] Manitoba Trauma Information and Education Centre. (n.d.). Strength Based and Person Centered Approach. 

Structural Inequality

Structural inequality consists of hierarchical relations that are embedded within the organization of a society and its dominant institutions (e.g. law, education, economic systems, government, healthcare).  It also consists of the processes that reinforce and perpetuate the dominant and subordinate statuses conferred to individuals, or to the roles, opportunities, resources, or identities they hold.  

Structural inequality may be examined in terms of a specific arrangement of institutions or structures (i.e., the systems through which inequality takes place) or it may refer to a specific form of inequality (such as the unequal power often ascribed to people of different ethnicities or different levels of wealth).  In practice, structural inequality is often reinforced through the interconnections of multiple institutions and multiple systems of domination.

Learn More:

Structural Violence

“Refers to the physical and psychological harm that result from exploitative and unjust social, political and economic systems. Forms of structural violence operate globally against women, children, Indigenous peoples and those in poverty, and constitute human rights violations and significant social determinants of ill health. Structural violence is, however, often most pervasive because of its invisibility: embedded in ubiquitous social structures (and) normalized by stable institutions and regular experience…structural inequities usually seem ordinary.” [1]


[1] Rutherford, A., Zwi, A. B., Grove, N. J., & Butchart, A. (2007). Violence: a glossary. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 61(8), 676–680. doi:10.1136/jech.2005.043711


Any individual can be a survivor of interpersonal violence regardless of age, race, economic status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. “The term ‘survivor’ is preferred to victim as it reflects the reality that many abused individuals cope and move on with personal strength, resourcefulness, and determination.” [1]

Some individuals and organizations have also proposed using “experiencer” as a general term encompassing all individuals with lived experiences of violence.  This term encompasses those who might also identify as survivors and those who may legally be defined as “victims.” It also recognizes those who identify with neither of these terms, and those that did not survive this experience. [2]

Learn More:


[1] Baker, L., & Jaffe, P. (2007). Woman Abuse Affects our Children. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20190613134606/https://www.springtideresources.org/sites/all/files/Educators_Guide_to_Woman_Abuse.pdf

[2] Nonomura, R., Baker, L, & Lalonde, D. (forthcoming). Trafficking at the Intersections.  Learning Network Brief.  Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children. London, Ontario: Learning Network.

Survivor-Centred Approach

A survivor-centred approach is one that “prioritizes the rights, needs, and wishes of the survivor.” [1] According to this approach, it is the survivor’s right to:

  • “be treated with dignity and respect instead of being exposed to victim-blaming attitudes.
  • choose the course of action in dealing with the violence instead of feeling powerless.
  • privacy and confidentiality instead of exposure.
  • non-discrimination instead of discrimination based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, HIV status or any other characteristic.
  • receive comprehensive information to help (them) make (their) own decision instead of being told what to do.” [1]


[1] UN Women Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. (2011). Survivor-centred approach.  Retrieved from http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/652-survivor-centred-approach.html


Swatting is “the deliberate and malicious act of reporting a false crime or emergency to evoke an aggressive response from a law enforcement agency to a target’s residence or place of work to harass and intimate them.” [1]


[1] Center for Technology and Safety. (August 18, 2022). What is Swatting? ADL. Retrieved from What Is Swatting? | ADL

Systemic Discrimination

“The institutionalization of discrimination through policies and practices which may appear neutral on the surface but which have an exclusionary impact on particular groups, such that various minority groups are discriminated against, intentionally or unintentionally.” [1]

Additionally, “while it does not necessarily exclude all of a group’s members,” and while any individual policy or practice may not appear overtly prejudicial, the effect of systemic discrimination is a process and pattern of exclusion, marginalization, or barriers faced by people based on the social group they belong to (such as women, non-white, immigrant, disAbled, LGBTQ2S, poor, working class, etc.). [1, 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] 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


Systemic Racism

“Systemic Racism includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. It differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary.” [1]

“It manifests itself in two ways: (1) institutional racism: racial discrimination that derives from individuals carrying out the dictates of others who are prejudiced or of a prejudiced society and (2) structural racism: inequalities rooted in the system-wide operation of a society that excludes substantial numbers of members of particular groups from significant participation in major social institutions.” [1]


[1] Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. (n.d.). Forms of racism. Calgary Anti-Racism Education, Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. Retrieved from: http://www.aclrc.com/forms-of-racism


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