• Abandonment is generally understood in terms of infants and children being discarded by parents. Typically, youthful mothers without material or other support have been known to abandon their offspring in shame and desperation, at times in potentially life-threatening locations such as garbage bins, street corners, and public toilets. Emotional and economic abandonment of children by their fathers is a serious problem internationally and in the United States, where the UN estimated that 10 million single mothers were living with children under the age of 18 in 2000. Abandoned children living in the streets without adults are found in every country. According to UN estimates in 2001, 150 million children under the age of 18 were dwelling in streets due to poverty, abuse, parental death, and deliberate abandonment. In addition to children, a large number of elderly individuals of both genders are deserted each year in the United States. Long-term caregivers, the majority of whom are female relatives, are often overwhelmed by lack of financial and social assistance, leading to abandonment of their charges. Wives are also abandoned by their spouses worldwide. [1]


  • lThe cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign different (lower) value to people who have developmental, emotional, physical, sensory or health-related disabilities, thereby resulting in negative treatment. [2]
  • Ableism is a pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. Like other forms of oppression, ableism operates on individual, institutional and cultural levels. Deeply rooted beliefs about health, productivity, beauty, and the value of human life, perpetuated by the public and private media, combine to create an environment that is often hostile to those whose physical, emotional, cognitive, or sensory abilities fall outside the scope of what is currently defined as socially acceptable. [1]

Aboriginal persons

  • Persons who identify with at least one Aboriginal group (i.e. North American Indian, Métis, or Inuit), as well as persons who identify with more than one group, and person who do not identify with an Aboriginal group, but who are Registered or Treaty Indians or members of an Indian band. [3]
  • Persons descending from the original inhabitants of Canada, including Status Indians, non-Status Indians, First Nations people, Métis and Inuit. In Ontario, Aboriginal people live both on- and off-reserve, and have unique and diverse heritages, languages, spiritual beliefs, and cultural and traditional practices. [4]
  • The descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. This term is used to collectively describe three cultural groups of aboriginal people – “Inuit”, “Métis People” and “First Nations”. These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs, histories and political goals. [2]          


  • Abuse is behaviour used to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person. It may be a pattern of behaviour or it may be a single incident. Abusive behaviour might involve acts or words or even neglect. Abuse happens when someone hurts or mistreats you. Abuse can happen to anyone: someone in a family or someone in a dating relationship, a spouse or former spouse, a partner in an intimate relationship or former partner, a child, young person, or older person. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. You may experience more than one type of abuse. [5]

Abuse of older adults 

  • Abuse of older adults refers to violence, mistreatment or neglect that older adults living in either private residences or institutions may experience at the hands of their spouses, children, other family members, caregivers, service providers or other individuals in situations of power or trust. The definition also includes older adults abused by non-family members who are not in a position of power or trust.[6]

Abused partner 

  • An individual who is abused by her intimate partner.  Used interchangeably with survivor, victimized parent, and adult victim. Many advocates prefer the term “survivor,” as it reflects the reality that many abused individuals cope and move on with personal strength, resourcefulness, and determination. [7]

Abused woman 

  • The term woman abuse refers to various forms of violence, abuse, mistreatment and neglect that women experience in their intimate, kin or dependent relationships. These include current, dissolving or past relationships with husbands, common-law partners, lovers, dating partners, family members and caregivers. Many terms have been used to describe the abuse of women within relationships, including wife abuse, wife assault, wife battering, spouse abuse, and partner abuse. Recently, activists within the shelter movement have begun to use the more inclusive term woman abuse or woman battering. Some authors use the term woman abuse to refer to various forms of violence against women, including wife abuse, premarital woman abuse, rape and sexual assault. [2] The term intimate partner violence has also been used. [3] Some terms do not specify whether the abuser is a man or a woman. In fact, although a woman may be abused by another woman, it is generally accepted by front-line workers that she is most likely to be abused by a man.  Any woman—regardless of her age, race, ethnicity, education, cultural identity, socioeconomic status, occupation, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, or personality—may experience abuse. [8]

Abuse-related trauma

  • An extraordinary/overwhelming event perceived as threatening to a person’s life or physical integrity, includes single event occurrence or longer term cumulative. Trauma may include woman abuse, sexual assault, childhood abuse, neglect, war trauma, human trafficking, and institutional trauma (e.g., residential schools). It continues to exert negative effects on thinking (cognition), feelings (affects) and behaviour long after the event is in the past. [4]

Abusive man

An abusive man may:

  • Feel very jealous of other men and not want his partner to talk to men, even if they are friends. He may be convinced she is cheating.
  • Become very angry about small things. e.g. his partner is late, or does not like what she is wearing.
  • Try to isolate his partner from friends, family and other supports.
  • Try to control by violence or threat of violence.
  • Deny responsibility for his violence and blame his partner for the problem in the relationship.
  • Feel sorry after an attack, but gradually forget promises to change.
  • Believe very strongly in traditional male/female roles.
  • He believes he has the right to control his partner and “keep her in line.” [3]

Abusive sexual contact  

  • Intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person without his or her consent, or of a person who is unable to consent or refuse. [9]

Acid attacks

  • In an acid attack, a man throws acid (the kind found in car batteries) on the face of a girl or woman. Any number of reasons can lead to acid attacks. A delayed meal or the rejection of a marriage proposal is offered as justification for a man to disfigure a woman with acid. Sulfuric acid is ubiquitous, being the basic, inexpensive ingredient for making lead acid batteries in all motorized vehicles all over the world. There does not appear to be any way of reducing its availability in any way. The court systems in Bangladesh have only recently started to administer stiff punishments to perpetrators, hoping that this will work as deterrent to others.[11]

Adult survivor of child/youth sexual abuse

  • An adult age 18 years of age or older who was sexually abused as a child. [12]

Adult victim of partner abuse

  • An adult age 18 years of age or older who has been abused one or more times sexually, physically, psychologically by a current or past partner or spouse. [12]


  • The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign different values to people according to their age, thereby resulting in differential treatment. [2]
  • Ageism is the pervasive oppression of people based on their age. Discrimination comes from the societal myth that older and younger people cannot perform certain cognitive or affective standards in the same way simply because they are younger or older. Therefore, based on people’s ages, they have unfairly prescribed roles. [14]

Agency/autonomy of battered women

  • Agency is the power to direct one’s life. It is a core principle of the battered women’s movement. Historically, researchers and community actors adopted frameworks that characterized women’s responses to gender-based violence as lacking in agency. This resulted in advocacy approaches and judicial responses that ignored and compromised the agency of battered women. Subsequent research illustrated that battered women are active strategists who employ an array of strategies. Thus, advocacy and interventions that recognize the complexity of battered women’s lives and assist victims in their own strategic decision making foster the agency of “survivors.” [1]

Aggravated sexual assault

  • An aggravated sexual assault is a sexual assault that involves an injury to the victim or one in which her life is endangered. [15]


  • An act done with the intention to harm another person, oneself, or an object. [16]

Alleged perpetrator/offender

  • The person charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution. [17]

Anti-Black Racism

  • Anti-Black racism is the racial prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent, rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement. It is manifested in the legacy and racist ideologies that continue to define African descendants’ identities, their lives and places them at the bottom of society and as primary targets of racism. It is manifested in the legacy of the current social, economic, and political marginalization of African Canadians in society such as the lack of opportunities, lower socio-economic status, higher unemployment, significant poverty rates and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. Anti-Black racism is characterized by particularly virulent and pervasive racial stereotypes. Canadian courts and various Commissions have repeatedly recognized the pervasiveness of anti-Black stereotyping and the fact that African Canadians are the primary targets of racism in Canadian society. As described by Stephen Lewis (1992): “First, what we are dealing with, at root, and fundamentally, is anti-Black racism. While it is obviously true that every visible minority community experiences the indignities and the wounds of systemic discrimination throughout Southern Ontario, it is the Black community which is the focus. It is Blacks who are being shot, it is Black youth that are unemployed in excessive numbers, it is Black students who are being inappropriately streamed in schools, it is Black kids who are disproportionately dropping out, it is housing communities with large concentrations of Black residents where the sense of vulnerability and disadvantage is most acute, it is Black employees, professional and non-professional, on whom the doors of upward equity slam shut. Just as the soothing balm of “multiculturalism” cannot mask racism, so racism cannot mask its primary target. [2]


  • Strategies, theories and actions which challenge socially and historically built inequalities and injustices that are ingrained in our systems and institutions by policies and practices that allow certain groups to dominate over other groups. [18]
  • An anti-oppression framework acknowledges the necessity of allies and the limitations and boundaries required when working with allies.  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 places responsibility with those who wield or influence power to enact change, facilitate equity and simultaneously supports oppressed and marginalized individuals and groups to mobilize and build their capacity for self-determination. [82]


  • 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. It also equips White people with knowledge and skills to acknowledge their own privilege and to work for social change. [14]
  • An active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism as well as the oppression and injustice racism causes. [18]

Anti-racist Education

  • A perspective that permeates all subject areas and school practices, aimed at the eradication of racism in all its various forms. Anti-racist education can also be taught/learned in informal and non-formal educational settings. [2]


  • Latent or overt hostility or hatred directed towards individual Jews or the Jewish people (not to all Semitic peoples), leading to social, economic, institutional, religious, cultural or political discrimination. Anti-Semitism has also been expressed through individual acts of physical violence, vandalism, the organized destruction of entire communities and genocide. [2]


  • Assault is an unlawful action. It is a form of aggression, either real or threatened, either with or without a weapon, that the state or some other legal entity has designated as a violation of the law. Assaults that are illegal are mostly those that cause or were intended to cause bodily harm, plus threats to that effect. [1]


  • Assessment is the process of gathering information for use in making decisions. The specific assessment procedures used are determined by what is being assessed and the nature of the decisions to be made. In the case of domestic violence risk assessment, we must assess what people have done in the past, how they are functioning currently, and what they might do in the future. The specific procedures used to gather relevant information typically include interviews with and observations of the person being evaluated; direct psychological or medical testing of the person; careful review of available documentary records; and interviews with collateral informants such as co-workers, family members, friends, and service providers. Good assessments should: (1) collect information about multiple areas of the persons functioning, such as relationships, employment, substance use, and mental health; (2) use multiple methods to gather information, such as observation, testing, document review, and interviews; and, (3) gather information from multiple sources, such as the victim/survivor, perpetrator, and co-workers. [19]



  • An overt or covert obstacle; used in employment equity to mean a systemic obstacle to equal employment opportunities or outcomes; an obstacle which must be overcome for equality to be possible. [2]
  • An obstacle that prevents an individual or group from accessing the same (or similar ad appropriate services or opportunities as others. A barrier can be physical, financial, attitudinal, social, and geographic. [10]

Battered woman

  • Derives from the criminal violation known as battery, or the willful or intentional touching of a person against that person’s will by another person, or by an object or substance put in motion by that other person. Other terms that are currently used to refer to such activity include domestic violence, wife abuse, spousal abuse, family violence, and intimate partner violence. In many cases, the two terms family violence and intimate partner violence have taken the place of battery, and victimized individuals are referred to as victims or survivors rather than battered women, a term that in its emphasis on physical violence fails to entirely capture the various ways in which intimate partners of either gender can be manipulated and abused in heterosexual and homosexual relationships. [20]
  • (Battered woman) Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse or intimate partner violence (IPV), can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation. [21]


  • A batterer is a person who exercises a pattern of coercive control in a partner relationship, punctuated by one or more acts of intimidating physical violence, sexual assault, or credible threat of physical violence. This pattern of control and intimidation may be predominantly psychological, economic, or sexual in nature or may rely primarily on the use of physical violence. Physical Violence does NOT require the presence of beatings, but it does require that there at least be actions clearly intended as threats, such as raising fists, cutting phone lines, or deliberately dangerous driving. [22]
  • Person who uses violence and/or threats of physical, sexual or emotional violence against a member of the same household or romantic partner in a dating relationship. Blames the victim, accepts no responsibility for own behavior. See Batterer Profile and Cycle of Violence. [23]

Batterers’ intervention programs (BIP) 

  • Interventions to help abusive men identify and stop using power and control tactics in relationships.  Participants are taught the attitudes and behaviours that define healthy, equal relationships. [4]

Best practices

  • Activities based on sound scientific evidence, extensive community experience and/or cultural knowledge. Healthy living interventions will be more effective if they are based on established best practices. [24]

Bi-directional violence

  • Characterizes violence in intimate relationships as mutual, or occurring at similar levels for women and men. [18]


  • Biphobia is the fear or hatred of bisexual people. This term addresses the ways that prejudice against bisexuals differs from prejudice against other queer people. There is often biphobia in gay, lesbian, and trans communities, as well as straight communities. [14]
  • Biphobia is a term used to describe aversion felt toward bisexuality and bisexuals as a social group or as individuals. People of any sexual orientation can experience such feelings of aversion. A source of discrimination against bisexuals, biphobia is based on negative bisexual stereotypes and bisexual erasure. [21]


  • Bullying refers to aggressive behavior intended to harm the physical well-being of the victim or to create a feeling of fear and intimidation. Bullying includes physical assaults, physical intimidation, psychological intimidation, name-calling, teasing, social isolation, and exclusion. Two characteristics distinguish bullying from other forms of aggressive behavior. The first is the repetitive and prolonged nature of the bullying act; hence, not all name-calling is a form of bullying. In comparison, the victim is physically, psychologically, and socially more vulnerable, which allows the bully to engage in the behavior with little concern for reprisals or other consequences. [20]
  • The most common definition of bullying is, “a repeated oppression, psychological or physical, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group of persons.” Bullying is different from aggression between people of equal power. However, someone can have less power than others for many reasons – being shy, being different, lacking confidence, having problems at home, or lacking physical strength. Bullying takes many different forms including physical threats or violence; name-calling and teasing; ostracism; and social attacks on someone’s reputation. People can bully others directly, in person; indirectly, such as by gossiping or ‘badmouthing’ by voice to others; or through any form of communication technology including talking on the phone, writing, texting, emailing, and recording. Bullying behavior occurs in schools, sports, youth groups, work places, social groups, senior centers, and online activities. It can occur anywhere people gather, either in the real world or the virtual world. Bullying takes place between people of all ages and walks of life. Young people who are being bullied are especially likely to feel trapped and alone because they usually don’t have a choice about where they live, go to school, or play. [26]


Caregivers and violence

  • Trust is the foundation for relationships between caregivers and the individuals they support. Most caregivers who provide support for persons with disabilities, older people, and children provide services in an atmosphere of mutual respect. However, there can be violence in this caregiving relationship, and most people with disabilities who experience domestic violence are abused by direct caregivers. Violence in a caregiving relationship is often perpetrated by the caregiver; it can also be directed against the caregiver by the person receiving care. [18]

Child abduction

  • There are two types of child abduction: Non-family and Family.
  • Child abduction is legally defined as a child being held involuntarily for a modest amount of time or moved even a short distance. In an attempt to address the variation in the severity of nonfamily abductions, the Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) distinguished stereotypical kidnapping as a subcate-gory of nonfamily abduction.
  • A stereotypical kidnapping is an abduction perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance and involving a child who was transported 50 or more miles, detained overnight, held for ransom or with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed. Family abduction is defined as the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involves some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges.
  • Family abducted children are both a subcategory of missing children and part of a larger type of crime and child welfare problem. Since it is possible for a child to be unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, with the child’s whereabouts known, not all family abducted children are missing. For example, a child may be abducted by a noncustodial father, taken to the father’s home in a different country, and kept at an address well known to the custodial mother. Even though the father refuses to return the child, the abducted child is not missing because the custodial mother knows where the child is. [1]

Child abuse

  • Also called “child maltreatment,” a term that can mean physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and/or physical or emotional neglect, and/or denial of medical care. [4]
  • The term “child abuse” refers to the violence, mistreatment or neglect that a child or adolescent may experience while in the care of someone they either trust or depend on, such as a parent, sibling, other relative, caregiver or guardian. Abuse may take place anywhere and may occur, for example, within the child's home or that of someone known to the child. [27]

Child exposure to domestic violence

  • Seeing, hearing, being told about, or seeing the aftermath of abuse and coercive control used against a parent. [28]

Child exposure to woman abuse

  • Seeing, hearing, being told about, or seeing the aftermath of a mother’s abuse by her intimate partner. [4]

Child maltreatment

  • Child maltreatment and child abuse are sometimes used interchangeably. For example, the WHO Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention uses the following definition: “Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”. [29]
  • Some definitions consider as abused those children who have been inadvertently harmed through the actions of a parent or caregiver, while others require that harm to the child be intended for “abuse” to have occurred. [30]
  • Given that ideas about parenting are culturally contingent, concepts of what constitutes child maltreatment vary significantly between cultures. For example, corporal punishment of children is socially and legally accepted in many countries, while in others it is outlawed. [30] Cultures continuously evolve and so harmful, culturally sanctioned practices have the potential to change over time. [31]

Child neglect

  • On-going failure to provide needed age-appropriate care, such as food, clothing, supervision, medical care and other basic needs for development of physical, intellectual and emotional capacities in children. [28]
  • Child neglect is a form of child maltreatment. Child neglect can be defined as a deficit in meeting a child’s basic needs. Furthermore, child neglect is the failure to provide basic physical health care, supervision, nutrition, emotional nurturing, education or safe housing. Society generally believes there are necessary behaviors a caregiver must provide a child in order for the child to develop (physically, socially, and emotionally). It is important to note that child neglect is how a child and society perceives the parents’ behavior; it is not how the parent believes they are behaving towards their child (Barnett et al., p. 84). It is important to distinguish between parental failure to provide when options are available and when options are not available. Poverty is often an issue and leads parents to not being able to provide. The circumstances and intentionality must be examined before defining behavior as neglectful. Child neglect is the most frequent form of abuse of children. In 2008, the U.S. state and local child protective services received 3.3 million reports of children being abused or neglected. Seventy-one percent of the children were classified as victims of child neglect (“Child Abuse & Neglect”). [21]

Child/Youth sexual abuse

  • A person under the age of 18 years old who has been involved in a sexual act with a person in a position of trust and authority by age, strength, or intelligence, including acts such as touching, fondling, exposing oneself, participation in prostitution and any participation or viewing of pornography. [12]
  • Any sexual contact with a child or any activity undertaken with a sexual purpose. It can include genital fondling, digital penetration, or an invitation to sexually touch the perpetrator. [28]
  • Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, physical sexual contact with a child, or using a child to produce child pornography. Sexual abuse is one form of child abuse. It includes a wide range of actions between a child and an adult or older child. Often these involve body contact, but not always. Exposing one’s genitals to children or pressuring them for sex is sexual abuse. Using a child for pornography is also sexual abuse. [21]

Child/Youth victim of sexual exploitation 

  • A child who has been taken advantage of and/or manipulated by any person in a position of trust or authority by age, strength, or intelligence, for sexual purposes. [12]
  • Sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth occurs when an older child, adolescent or adult takes advantage of a younger child or youth 1 for sexual purposes, including for participation in prostitution, pornographic performances and in the production of pornography. Sexual abuse and exploitation is perpetrated on children of all ages, from infancy to adolescence. Sexual activity includes all sexual contact ranging from sexual touching to sexual intercourse. Except for a narrow close in age exception, 2 all sexual activity with a child under the age of 14 is a criminal offence, regardless of the child’s consent. Youth between the ages of 14 and 17 also cannot legally consent to sexual activity with a person in a position of trust or authority or with whom the youth is in a relationship of dependency. In such cases, sexual activity with 14 to 17 year olds is a criminal offence, notwithstanding their consent. [3]
  • There are many overlapping dimensions to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth. A child or youth may be sexually abused and exploited by one or more family members or by others outside the family, including by others known to the child or youth or by a stranger. The perpetrator may be acting alone or in an organized group or network. The perpetrator may be either the same or the opposite sex as the victim although current data suggest that the majority of perpetrators are male. Regardless, however, of where and how it occurs, or who commits it, or whether the child or youth consents, the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth is a betrayal of trust and an abuse of power. [57]

Child/Youth victim/witness of domestic violence

  • A child under the age of 18 years who has been abused in any way or exposed to abuse of any kind within a family environment. [12]

Child/Youth violence-physical abuse

  • A child under the age of 18 years who has experienced physical threats or physical violence or whose needs have been neglected or disregarded by a person or persons in a position of authority or in which a relationship of trust exists. [12]


  • Classism is prejudice and/or discrimination, either personally or institutionally, against people because of their real or perceived economic status or background. [14]
  • The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign value to people according to their socio-economic status, thereby resulting in differential treatment.
  • Colonialism Usually refers to the period of European colonization from Columbus (1492) onwards, in the Americas, Asia and Africa, and taking on different forms from settler colonies like Canada to non-settler colonies such as India during British rule. Colonialism differs also across colonizing nations and across time. For example, French colonialism had different policies from British, while modern colonialism is often seen as part of “globalization”, which includes the exploitation of labour and national resources by transnational corporations and the expansion of free trade agreements and blocs. [2]


  • Closure refers to the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event, such as, for example, sexual abuse or assault. People often behave in a certain way or perform certain tasks to help "bring closure" following such events. These may include legal action or counselling. [17]

Coercive control

  • An on-going pattern of domination using strategies that include irrational demands, surveillance, isolation, and the realistic threat of negative consequences such as physical harm. It can be used as a guise for child "discipline." [28]
  • Coercive control defines violence against women from a human rights perspective, as a violation of a woman’s rights to liberty and autonomy.
  • It involves the entrapment of women, by male partners, by coercive and controlling behaviours to deprive women of rights and resources essential to freedom in everyday life.
  • The coercive control model of abuse replaces a focus on violation of physical integrity with an emphasis on deprivation of basic rights and liberties in personal, economic and political life, and its consequences. [33]

Coercive sexual initiation

  • Coerced sexual initiation is generally defined as the use of persistent coercive strategies (i.e., psychological and emotional manipulation, verbal persuasion, or physical tactics) to initiate sexual contact. Only the tactics and strategies used to initiate sexual contact are specified in this definition, as it does not apply to a sexually coercive experience in its entirety. However, definitions of sexual coercion vary considerably in the existing literature, contributing to the difficulty inherent in defining coerced sexual initiation. For example, in some studies, sexual coercion is defined broadly and includes the use of alcohol or drugs to decrease the victim’s inhibitions to obtain sexual contact. In other studies, the use of physical force to coerce sexual contact is included in the definition of sexual coercion. Conversely, some studies focusing on sexually coercive behavior narrow the definition by excluding the use of physical force to obtain sexual contact, but still include physical tactics such as continual attempts to sexually arouse the victim and removal of clothing. Although coerced sexual initiation can lead to rape, the less severe tactics (e.g., verbal persuasion) are not currently included in the legal definition of rape. As defined by the Department of Justice, rape is the use of physical force or threats of physical force to obtain sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim, though specific definitions vary among state statutes. Sexual coercion differs from rape in that victims are coerced into consenting to sexual contact when they may not have initially agreed. It should be noted that consensual sexual experiences include many of the behaviors that are also considered coercive, such as removal of clothing, continued kissing, and genital touching, thus highlighting the crucial importance of the context in which these behaviors occur. [1]

Collective efficacy

  • Mutual trust among neighbors combined with a willingness to act on behalf of the common good, specifically to supervise children and maintain public order. In communities where collective efficacy is high, neighbors interact with one another, residents can count on their neighbors for various types of social support such as childcare, people intervene to prevent teenagers from engaging in delinquent acts, and neighborhood leaders struggle to obtain funding from governments and local businesses to help improve neighborhood conditions. [1]

Collective Violence

  • Refers to violence committed by larger groups of individuals and can be subdivided into social, political and economic violence. [34]

Community Policing

  • As gatekeepers to the criminal justice system, police are typically the first responders to intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents and thus shape formal responses to domestic violence. Historically, victims of IPV received little to no support within the criminal justice system. Domestic violence was considered a private matter, a problem that most often occurred within people’s homes. Consequently, police were reluctant to intervene, and often no legal actions were taken against offenders. This began to change in the 1970s, however, as the women’s movement and other advocacy groups brought the issue of domestic violence to the public’s attention. In addition to lobbying for the mobilization of community resources to provide assistance to victims of IPV, such as emergency shelters and counseling, advocates also lobbied for the increased use and severity of criminal sanctions against offenders of such crimes. As a result of these efforts, IPV was no longer considered a private matter existing outside the domain of the criminal justice system.
  • During this same period, the public, along with various advocacy groups, began to criticize other law enforcement practices, such as police use of excessive force and racial discrimination. Furthermore, police and community interaction was minimal, which subsequently led to increased citizen dissatisfaction of current policing strategies and a reluctance to rely on police to address social problems. A new philosophy, termed community policing, was created to transform traditional policing methods and facilitate greater trust between citizens and police. Rather than rely on traditional reactive policing strategies that exacerbated the gulf between citizens and police, community policing stressed partnerships with community members in order to increase personal contact and better address and prevent neighborhood problems. As a result of these reforms, policing strategies for handling domestic violence also changed. [1]

Compassion fatigue

  • Compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization and secondary trauma all refer to the potentially negative impact of working with trauma survivors, including survivors of interpersonal violence, on caregivers, including therapists, counselors, advocates, and volunteers. Caregivers have described a range of responses to working with trauma survivors, including fear, feeling overwhelmed, anxiety, insomnia, physical ailments, emotional numbing, anger, hopelessness, vulnerability, grief, guilt, dread, horror, and over- or under identification with survivors. [1]


  • Information that is confidential is only shared with people who are authorized to have access to it. For example, lawyers, doctors, counselors and therapists are required to keep information about their clients confidential unless they are required to disclose it by law. [17]


  • Consent means agreeing to sexual activity – for example, kissing, touching, intercourse – with another person.  Consent is voluntary.  In Canada, you must be 16 years old or older to consent to sexual activity.  Even if you consent to sexual activity, you can still change your mind (decide you want to stop).  Without permission (consent), it is sexual assault. [35]
  • “Consent” means, for the purposes of this section, the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question. No consent is obtained, if
    (a) the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the  complainant;
    (b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity;
    (c) the accused counsels or incites the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
    (d) the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity; or
    (e) the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity. [36]

Coordinated community response

  • Coordinated community response (CCR) refers to communitywide efforts to bring together relevant stakeholders to address complex social problems (e.g., intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, substance abuse). Efforts to coordinate responses to social problems developed out of an awareness that (a) many stakeholders (such as parents, friends, neighbors, social service agencies, law enforcement, educators, religious leaders, employers, government officials) interact with those affected by social problems and have a potential role to play in addressing such problems and that, (b) unless these stakeholders work together in a coordinated way, there will be gaps and duplication in the community response. Importantly, a coordinated effort emphasizes that it is the entire community, rather than isolated agencies or stakeholders, which is responsible for responding to social issues. While coordinated efforts exist in response to a wide variety of social problems, the phrase coordinated community response was coined regarding the response to intimate partner violence. [1]

Coping Strategy

  • A way to cope with an emotionally painful situation.  Sometimes referred to as survival strategies. [4]

Criminal harassment

  • The Criminal Code was amended in 1993 to include the new offence of "criminal harassment." This crime is more commonly known as stalking, although the two are not identical. Section 264 of the Code sets out precisely what types of stalking behaviour are illegal. For example: repeatedly following someone from place to place; repeatedly communicating with someone; spending time outside someone's home or workplace; or making threats against a person; where these actions cause that other person to be fearful for her safety. [15]
  • Criminal harassment/stalking is obsessive behaviour directed toward another person. It can involve persistent, malicious and unwanted surveillance, and invasion of privacy that is a constant threat to the victim’s personal security. Criminal harassment is an offence under the Criminal Code. [37]
  • Criminal harassment, which includes “stalking,” is a crime. Criminal harassment generally consists of repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time and that causes victims to reasonably fear for their safety but does not necessarily result in physical injury. It may be a precursor to subsequent violent acts. A person who is harassed may file a petition for a "stay away" (restraining) order, intended to prevent contact by the offensive party. [17]
  • An adult 18 years of age or older who has been repeatedly followed, contacted, watched, or threatened against their will in any manner, including electronic (phone, e-mail, instant messaging) contact. [12]


  • Used to describe stalking behaviors that (a) involve repeated threats and/or harassment, (b) use electronic mail or other information technology-based communication, or c) would cause a reasonable person to be afraid or concerned for his or her safety. Cyberstalkers most commonly harass their victims through email, but may also use Web sites, chat rooms, discussion forums, and open publishing Web sites (e.g., blogs and online journals). Cyberstalking may involve direct harassment of a victim or may use indirect means such as email to employers or postings in online newsgroups. Cyberstalking may be part of a systemic pattern of online harassment. [1]

Cyber Misogyny

  • Cyber misogyny refers to the various forms of gendered hatred, harassment, and abusive behaviour targeted at women and girls on the Internet. [89]
  • The term draws attention to the discriminatory nature of this behaviour that occurs within a context of power and marginalization, providing a more nuanced account than the more general term "cyberbullying". 
  • Common examples of cyber misogyny include: revenge porn, cyberstalking, gender-based hate speech online, child sexual exploitation, and non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Cycle of violence

  • There are two cycles of violence often referred to in the literature on interpersonal violence. One is the “intergenerational transmission of violence” and the other is the cycle of intimate violence that escalates to violence and then subsides only to escalate again.
  • The first model is based on the view that children who live with domestic violence will learn that abuse is acceptable, and as they grow up, will tend to become either perpetrators of abuse or victims, largely depending on whether they are boys or girls.
  • The term “cycle of violence” is also used to refer to a cyclical model of an abusive relationship (1) in which the abuse gradually gets worse and builds to a climax, often involving severe physical or sexual violence; this is then followed by remorse and pleas for forgiveness. At that stage, the abuser is likely to promise never to repeat the violence; however – according to this model – the tension gradually builds up again to a further climax of abuse. The cycle can take varied periods of time, but tends to speed up the longer the relationship lasts. [39]


Dating violence 

  • Dating violence refers to abuse or mistreatment that occurs between “dating partners”, individuals who are having – or may be moving towards – an intimate relationship. [1] Although dating violence may be experienced at any stage of life, much of the research on dating violence has focused on young people including adolescents and university and college students. Among young people, age and developmental stage play a role in what is defined as “dating violence”. For example, the context of dating, and dating behaviours, may vary widely by age and gender – and dating patterns may be very different among young men and young women, or among young people who are 12 or 13 years of age, compared to those who are 16 or 17 years old, or among young adults 18-24 years of age. Dating violence may occur in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships. It may take place at any point in the dating process – when two people first meet or become interested in one another, on their first date, during their courtship, once they have been involved with each other for some time, or after their relationship has ended. Dating violence may be a single act of violence – such as sexual assault or “date rape” – or it may be a pattern of abusive behaviour and mistreatment that is repeated – and often escalates – over time. Abusers may use a number of different tactics to try to exert power and control over their victims. Physical, sexual or psychological abuse may be perpetrated by an abuser acting alone or with a group of people against a victim. [40]
  • Dating abuse or dating violence is defined as the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. [21]

Digital Dating Abuse

  • When one partner in an intimate relationship uses technology (e.g. cell phone) and social media to harass or control the other. [89]
  • Digital dating abuse is becoming increasingly common among youth. [89]


  • Discrimination is unfair treatment due to a “Prohibited Ground” under the Human Rights Code, which includes race, sex, sexual orientation, gender orientation and gender expression, same sex partner status, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, family status, or religion. Discrimination includes, but is not restricted to: the denial, withholding and delay of access to opportunities, services or facilities, so long as these actions and behaviours are based on the prohibited grounds listed above. [14]
  • The denial of equal treatment, civil liberties and opportunity to individuals or groups with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment and access to services, goods and facilities. Behaviour that results from prejudiced attitudes by individuals or institutions, resulting in unequal outcomes for persons who are perceived as different. Discrimination involves differential treatment may occur on the basis of race, nationality, gender, age, religion, political or ethnic affiliation, sexual orientation, marital or family status, physical, developmental or mental disability. Discrimination includes the denial of cultural, economic, educational, political and/or social rights of members of non-dominant groups. [18]
  • Differential treatment of an individual due to actual or perceived visible or invisible differences. [25]


  • Dissociation is a neurophysiological process by which individuals become disconnected from their behavioral, affective, cognitive, or sensory reality. This process occurs for some individuals when they are in a terrifying situation and have no perceived means of escape. This is one of two primary neurophysiological processes that occur when individuals are confronted with a terrifying situation and is associated with a “freeze” response. The other process is better known as the fight-or-flight response. The dissociative response is more typical of females, and the fight-or-flight response is more typical of males. Certain individuals appear to have a greater genetic predisposition to dissociate under terrifying conditions. Children are especially prone to dissociation. [39]

Domestic homicide/Homicides as a result of domestic violence

  • Domestic violence homicides are among the most prevalent interpersonal violence murders committed in these United States. Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behaviors involving physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuse, alone or in combination, by an intimate partner often for the purpose of establishing and maintaining power and control over the other partner. The origins of domestic violence are in social, legal and cultural norms, some historical and some current, including acceptance of violent behavior by men as the heads of households. While domestic violence occurs in all types of intimate relationships, it is overwhelmingly a problem of violence perpetrated by men against women. [42]
  • Domestic violence homicides are those murders that occur between men and women, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, boyfriends and boyfriends and girlfriends and girlfriend relationships. In fact, any murder between intimate partners would be considered a domestic violence homicide. They may also involve third party relationships, such as "love triangles" former husbands and/or wives, and jilted lovers. [43]

Domestic terrorist

The following characteristics identify the “domestic terrorist” personality. According to experts, the “domestic terrorist” has a very high lethality index:
  • Unpredictable outbursts
  • Unpredictable physical violence (biting almost universal)
  • Undermines partner’s sense of autonomy:
    • Controls sleep/wake cycle
    • Controls personal hygiene
    • Controls toilet routine/schedule
    • Controls eating patterns (deprivation)
    • Sexual enslavement
  • Sexual violence – bondage, clamping devices, strangulation, foreign object insertions (anal), forced sex with others.  

Domestic violence

  • The abuse and/or assault of adolescents or adults by their intimate partners.  Used interchangeably with “intimate partner abuse.” [4]
  • Domestic Violence is deliberate and purposeful violence, abuse and intimidation perpetrated by one person against another in an intimate relationship. It occurs between two persons where one has power over the other, causing fear, physical and/or psychological harm. It may be a single act or a series of acts forming a pattern of abuse. Domestic violence can occur in any relationship; however, women are primarily the victims and men are primarily the perpetrators. Children and young people may experience harm by being exposed to violence in adult relationships, being the direct victims of violence, or a combination of the two. [44]
  • Domestic violence refers to a romantic relationship in which violence exists.  Domestic violence commonly refers to husband and wife relationships but can also refer to dating relationships, common-law relationships, same sex relationships, or relationships in which two people live together.  All of these scenarios are considered domestic violence. [45]
  • Domestic violence includes any overt or covert act that causes physical harm, emotional harm, or material loss, that degrades human beings, or that acts against human rights and dignity. Domestic violence may involve a single incident or multiple incidents that persist, cumulate, and change over time. [46]
  • Any actual, actual, attempted, or threatened physical or sexual harm of a current or former intimate partner that is deliberate and non-consenting.  The definition is intended to include violence in any intimate (i.e., sexual, romantic) relationship, regardless of its legal status or the gender of the people involved. [19]
  • Any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of assaultive and controlling behaviour. The pattern of abuse may include:
    • Physical abuse
    • Emotional abuse
    • Psychological abuse
    • Sexual abuse
    • Criminal harassment (stalking)
    • Threats to harm children, other family members, pets, and property
    • The violence is used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten a partner of an intimate relationship, or to make them powerless.
    • The abuse, assault or systematic control of someone by an intimate partner, usually but not always a pattern of behaviour used by men against women. [28]
  • Also referred to as intimate partner abuse, is a crime. It results from an imbalance of power and control over one's partner. Domestic violence is primarily committed by men against women but also occurs in same sex relationships and by women against men. All survivors are not physically battered or beaten. Abuse can include other forms of mistreatment and cruelty such as constant threatening, psychological/emotional, sexual, financial/material, spiritual and verbal abuse. [18]

Domestic violence court program

  • Ontario's Domestic Violence Court (DVC) program is the most comprehensive and extensive of its kind in Canada. The DVC program has specialized processes for domestic violence cases during the investigation and prosecution. Teams of specialized professionals work together to help stop the cycle of domestic violence, improve support for victims and investigate and prosecute cases more efficiently. DVC teams include:
    • Police
    • Crown attorneys
    • Victim / Witness Assistance Program staff
    • Probation services
    • Partner Assault Response program staff
    • Other community agencies. [47]

Domestic violence deaths 

  • All homicides that involve the death of a person, and/or his child(ren) committed by the person’s partner or ex-partner from an intimate relationship. [48]

Domestic violence intervention

  • Action taken to stop domestic violence, lessen its effects on the victims and their families, and hold the abuser accountable. [44]

Domestic violence prevention

  • Prevention includes activities and approaches that promote safe, healthy relationships and behaviors.  Prevention aims to lower the chances that domestic violence will happen in the first place, or the chances that it will happen again. [44]

Domestic violence public education

  • Activities that aim to let more people know about the issue of domestic violence, its causes, consequences, and solutions. [44]

Domestic violence risk assessment

  • Domestic violence risk assessment involves the process of gathering information about perpetrators of domestic violence to make decisions regarding their risk of perpetrating domestic violence. While the focus of domestic violence risk assessment is on the perpetrator, victim safety planning is a very important part of this process. The primary goal of domestic violence risk assessment is prevention of future domestic violence. To prevent future domestic violence it is critical for service providers to determine what domestic violence risks are posed by a perpetrator and what steps can be taken to mitigate domestic violence risk. Risk assessment does not involve a prediction of whether a perpetrator will re-offend but does involve considering the risks he poses, his current situation, and any factors that could increase the likelihood he will commit a violent act.  Overall, domestic violence risk assessment can be defined as the process of evaluating individuals to: (1) speculate about the risks for domestic violence posed by the perpetrator; and, (2) mitigate the risks posed by the perpetrator. Put differently, the task is to understand how and why the perpetrator acted in other ways that cause others to fear he may commit domestic violence in the future, and then to determine what could be done to discourage the perpetrator from committing domestic violence in the future. [19]

Domestic violence screening

  • Domestic violence screening is the process of identifying warning signs for domestic violence. This process is critical for assessing and managing risk for domestic violence. Correct identification of warning signs allows us to assess risk and, where it exists, take appropriate steps to manage it; but missed identification of warning signs represent a lost opportunity to prevent domestic violence and protect potential victims/survivors. [19]

Dowry-related femicide

  • A dowry is a cultural tradition where the family of the bride provides money and/or property to the family of the groom. When a larger dowry is requested following the marriage of the bride and groom, or when the groom’s family is dissatisfied with the dowry given to them, the woman starts to be considered an ‘unsuitable wife’. Women are then murdered or forced to commit suicide through torture and harassment by the groom’s family. [92]
  • See also femicide.

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

  • Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) occurs when alcohol or other drugs are used to sedate or incapacitate a person in order to perpetrate sexual assault.  Types of DFSA include: 1) Proactive – a perpetrator puts a drug into a victim’s drink or gives a victim alcohol until she becomes inebriated and incapacitated; and 2) Opportunistic – a perpetrator targets a person who is already intoxicated or incapacitated. [83]



Economic abuse/financial abuse

  • Includes any act or behaviour that maintains control of the financial resources or maintains a woman’s financial dependence. It can include; withholding money for basic necessities, preventing her from working, spending or mismanaging family income, controlling her spending and threatening to make false allegations about fraud to Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program or Non-profit Housing. [22]
  • Economic or financial abuse includes stealing from or defrauding a partner. Withholding money that is necessary to buy food or medical treatment, manipulating or exploiting a person for financial gain, denying them access to financial resources, or preventing them from working (or controlling their choice of occupation) are also forms of economic abuse. [50]
  • Financial abuse (also referred to as economic abuse or material exploitation) includes restricting access to family resources, inheritance or employment opportunities, or to seize pay cheques. Unless theft, fraud or some form of coercion is used, financial abuse is not a crime under the Criminal Code. [37]

Elder abuse

  • Elder abuse is any action by someone in a relationship of trust that results in harm or distress to an older person. Neglect is a lack of action by that person in a relationship of trust with the same result. Commonly recognized types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial. Often, more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a repeated pattern of behaviour. [51]
  • Elder abuse is the maltreatment of an older person by someone they know and trust, most often a close family member. It is a breach of trust in highest sense. It is chronic in nature and usually occurs within in the home.
  • Financial abuse with elderly occurs when someone close to a woman is taking her money, wrongly spending money she has given them access to, or making her feel like she has to give them money. [52]

Emotional abuse

  • Emotional abuse includes verbal attacks, such as yelling, screaming and name-calling. Using criticism, verbal threats, social isolation, intimidation or exploitation to dominate another person are other forms of emotional abuse. Criminal harassment or "stalking" may include threatening a person or their loved ones, damaging their possessions, or harming their pets. [50]
  • Mental or emotional abuse, which includes making comments that degrade, humiliate, and control someone, including social isolation from family and friends. [44]
  • Psychological or emotional abuse includes insults, humiliation, put-downs and yelling, and extreme (often unfounded) jealousy. These are not crimes under the Criminal Code, but are often effectively used to control and intimidate intimate partners. It also includes harming pets and damaging property, which are crimes under the Criminal Code. [14]
  • Emotional abuse occurs when someone does or says something to make a woman afraid, to make her uncertain about herself or to cause her emotional pain by calling her names, yelling at, insulting or threatening her. Emotional abuse can also involve controlling a woman’s comings and goings, activities in or outside the home and/or who she talks to. [52]


  • To keep a person(s) in a state of bondage and reducing them to slavery. [2]

Environmental racism

  • A systemic form of racism in which toxic wastes are introduced in or near marginalized communities. People of colour, indigenous peoples, working class and poor people suffer disproportionately from environmental hazards and risks such as industrial toxins, polluted air, unclean water, deleterious work conditions and the location of dangerous, toxic facilities such as incinerators and toxic waste dumps. Pollution of lands, air and waterways; often causes chronic illness to the inhabitants and change in their lifestyle. [2]


  • Equality is the “outcome” reached through equity measures. Equity is the “process” of being fair to women and men or to other groups in order to compensate for historical and social disadvantages that prevent them from otherwise operating on a level play field. Equity leads to Equality. [24]
  • Refers to the right of the individual to a fair share of the goods and services in society. However, equal treatment will not necessarily guarantee equal results. Creating equity sometimes requires treating people differently from each other e.g., providing additional resources to some individuals so they are better able to compete for jobs obtain education, or access to other programs and services. [10]


  • Ethnocentrism is an attitude that one’s own culture, society, or group is inherently superior to all others. Judging other cultures by your own cultural standards and since, of course, other cultures are different, they are therefore inferior. Ethnocentrism means an inability to appreciate others whose culture may include a different racial group, ethnic group, religion, morality, language, political system, economic system, etc. It also means an inability to see a common humanity and human condition facing all women and men in all cultures and societies beneath the surface variations in social and cultural traditions. [14]
  • The tendency to view others using one’s own group and customs as the standard for judgment and the tendency to see one’s group and customs as the best. [2]


  • Presupposes the supremacy of Europe and Europeans in world culture, and relates history, policies, legislation, practices, structures and societal norms according to a European perception and experience. [2]


Failure to protect

  • Failure to protect is a form of child neglect. It implies that the neglecting parent has failed to protect a child when it was possible to do so. While this may sometimes be the case, the term is very controversial when applied to parents who are also victims themselves, such as in the case of battered women. As viewed by advocates of domestic violence, this term is a key charge by which child protective services find mothers who are victims of domestic violence neglectful under state law, by failing to protect or endangering their children through exposure to domestic violence against them. The consequence of such a finding can lead to children being removed from the home and placed in foster care. [1]

Failure to thrive

  • Failure to thrive (FTT) refers to a child’s poor physical growth. The term has mostly been applied to infants and toddlers. An approach to FTT requires an understanding of children’s growth patterns, nutritional needs, diet and feeding behavior, possible medical contributors, and the psychosocial context. [1]


  • The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign different values to people according to their religion or creed, or their lack of religion or creed, thereby resulting in differential treatment on the basis of faith. [2]

Family violence

  • Includes a range of behaviours that are abusive:
    • happens within relationships that are based on blood relationships, intimacy, dependency, or trust
    • may be one act but more often it is a series of acts that form a pattern of abuse
    • includes domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. [44]
    • Family violence includes many different forms of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that adults or children may experience in their intimate, family or dependent relationships.
    • The definition of family violence continues to evolve as the nature and extent of violence within intimate relationships and families becomes better understood. In the past two decades, more public and professional attention has concentrated on the following issues:  violence against women in intimate relationships including spousal abuse, dating violence and other forms of violence against women; child abuse, including sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth; and abuse of older adults. [53]

Female genital mutilation

  • The term FGM covers three main varieties of genital mutilation:
    • “Sunna” circumcision, meaning “traditional,” consists of the removal of the prepuce and/or the tip of the clitoris
    • Clitoridectomy (also referred to as excision) consists of the removal of the entire clitoris (both prepuce and glans) and the removal of the adjacent labia.
    • Infibulation (also referred to as pharaonic circumcision), is the most extreme form, consisting of the removal of the clitoris, the adjacent labia (majora and minora), and the joining of the scraped sides of the vulva across the vagina, where they are secured with thorns or sewn with catgut or thread. A small opening is kept to allow passage of urine and menstrual blood. An infibulated woman must be cut open to allow intercourse on the wedding night and is closed again afterwards to secure fidelity to the husband. [54]
  • The World Health Organization has classified FGM into four types:
    • Type I – Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.
    • Type II – Excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labia minora.
    • Type III – Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).
    • Type IV – Unclassified which includes pricking, piercing or incising of the clitoris and/or labia; stretching of the clitoris and/or labia; cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue.
  • FGM is currently illegal in most countries. The United Nations, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization have considered FGM to be a violation of Human Rights and have made recommendations to eradicate this practice. [11]

Female infanticide and gender-based sex-selective foeticide

  • Female infanticide refers to the intentional killing of female infants because they are female. It usually occurs by suffocation, drowning, neglect, or exposure to other dangers. When female fetuses are aborted because they are female, it is considered gender-based sex-selective foeticide. These types of femicide are reflective of “the lower ‘value’ of women in patriarchial societies”. [92]
  • See also femicide


  • The misogynous killing of women by men. [55]
  • Has its roots in the larger feminist discourse, which emphasizes the patriarchal nature of society and the tendency to use violence as tool of repression in the maintenance of male dominance. The term, which – unlike the term genocide, for example - has no legal basis, is elaborated in the work of Jill Radford and Diana E.H Russell in a compilation of works entitled ‘Femicide, the politics of woman killing’, published in 1992. It takes its form from the word ‘cide’, a derivative of the latin word ceadere which means to kill and femina which means woman or female. The term remains relatively specialist and has yet to reach mainstream political discourse, and has tended to be overshadowed by the more gender-neutral and widely applicable term ‘gendercide’ (see Gendercide). For the proponents of the term, this is simply more proof of the taboo nature of femicide and the silencing power of male structures within society which prevent women from actively naming violence against them and resisting its multiple forms. [55] [56]


  • To support women’s rights and interests based on a belief in social, political, legal, and economic equality of the sexes. [13]
  • Refers to theories, movements and actions that aim to challenge and eliminate sexism. [2]

First Nations

  • One of the three distinct cultural groups of Aboriginal Peoples. There are 633 First Nations Bands, representing 52 nations or cultural groups, and more than 50 languages. Most individuals prefer to be referred to by their specific nation e.g. Cree, Dene, Black Foot, etc. (AFN). [2]



  • Gender is the culturally specific set of characteristics that identify the social behaviour of women and men and the relationship between them. Gender, therefore, refers not simply to women or men but to the relationship between them and to the way it is socially constructed. Because it is a relational term, gender must include women and men. Like the concepts of class, race and ethnicity, gender is an analytical tool for understanding social processes. [84]

Gender-based harassment

  • A form of sexual harassment involving behaviour that reinforces heteronormative gender roles.
  • Examples of gender-based harassment include: making gender-related comments about a person's appearance or mannerisms, bullying someone using gender-related comments or conduct, treating a person badly because they do not fit stereotypic gender roles. [91]

Gender-based hate speech online

  • Refers to messages posted on social media sites or delivered through other online forums that promote hate or glorify violence against women. [89]

Gender-based violence

  • Gender-based violence is a term that recognizes that violence occurs within the context of women’s and girl’s subordinate status in society, and serves to maintain this unequal balance of power. [11]
  • Gender-based violence is sometimes used interchangeably with “violence against women” although the latter is a more limited concept. The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.” [11]

Gender-based violence against women

  • Violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman, or violence that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty. [57]

Gender Diversity

  • Refers to the extent to which a person’s gender identity, role, or expression differs from the cultural norms prescribed for people of a particular sex. This term is becoming more popular as a way to describe people without reference to a particular cultural norm, in a manner that is more affirming and potentially less stigmatizing than gender nonconformity. [102]

Gender Equality

  • Gender Equality means that women and men enjoy the same status and have equal opportunity to realize their full human rights and potential to contribute to national, political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit from the results. [84]

Gender Equality Analysis

  • Gender Equality Analysis refers, in the legal context, to a process that from the earliest working stage assesses the differential impacts on women and men of policies, programs, legislation and legal principles. This assessment considers gender differences, the nature of relationships between women and men and their varying socio-economic circumstances and takes into account compounding issues such as race, class, sexual orientation or disability. [84]

Gender Equity

  • Gender Equity is the process of being fair to women and men. To ensure fairness, strategies and measures must often be available to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages that have kept women from enjoying equal opportunity. Equity contributes to equality. [85]

Gender Expansive

  • A person who does not conform to society’s expectations of their gender role or gender expression. It is a broad term that includes boys who behave, dress and interact in feminine ways and girls who behave, dress and interact in masculine ways. [105]

Gender Mainstreaming

  • Gender Mainstreaming is a strategy for addressing issues relating to structural gender inequality and for inducing a fundamental transformation through eradication of gender prejudice and power imbalances between men and women.  This approach means recognizing that women and men often have different needs and priorities, face different constraints, have different aspirations, and contribute to development in different ways.  A key hypothesis is that organisations and societies must be transformed to accommodate both women’s and men’s needs and treat them as equals. [85]

Gender norms

  • Gender norms are norms dictated by societies to define which role women and men play. In several cultures the gender norms are oppressive to women. Women are brought up to think that they have to serve and submit to men. In many societies, men control the household and the decision-making in the family. [38]

Genital mutilation related femicide

  • Female genital mutilation involves the partial or full removal and/or injury of female genatalia for non-medical purposes. It is typically performed on girls between infancy and fifteen years of age. Infections incurred as the result of unhygienic operations frequently result in loss of life, which is considered an acceptable outcome. [92]
  • See also femicide


  • Deliberate decisions and actions made by one nation or group of people in order to eliminate, usually through mass murder, the entirety of another nation or group. The term has also been used to refer to the destruction of the culture of a people, as in cultural genocide. [2]

Group rape

  • A serious and greatly understudied form of rape. Also referred to as gang rape. Both terms refer to a rape or sexual assault committed by more than one perpetrator against one victim. Most research on group rape has focused on cases reported to police or incidents in post-secondary populations. In general, research has shown that group rape is less common than rape committed by one offender against one victim, yet more serious in terms of the number and severity of sexual acts suffered by victims. [1]



  • A person who engages in harassing behaviour towards another person. The harasser can be of the same or opposite sex as the person harassed, may be a supervisor, a co-worker, or someone providing you with a service, such as a bank officer or a clerk in a government department. [17]


  • Harassment includes behaviour or comments that demean, insult, or offend, and may constitute a form of discrimination where such conduct is based on a “Prohibited Ground” under the Human Rights Code, which includes race, sex, sexual orientation, gender orientation and gender expression, same sex partner status, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, family status, or religion, where the person knows or ought to know that such behaviour or comments are unwelcome. Harassment may be by words, gestures, electronic messages (including, but not limited to, telephone, voicemail, fax or computer messages), innuendoes, graffiti, signs, pictures or other acts. [14]
  • Persistent, on-going communication (in any form) of negative attitudes, beliefs or actions towards an individual or group, with the intention of placing that person(s) in a disparaging role. Harassment is manifested in name calling, jokes or slurs, graffiti, insults, threats, discourteous treatment and written or physical abuse. Harassment may be subtle or overt. [2]
  • Any unwanted physical or verbal conduct that offends or humiliates you. Such conduct can interfere with your ability to do a job or obtain a service. Harassment is a type of discrimination. It can take many forms, such as:
    • threats, intimidation, or verbal abuse;
    • unwelcome remarks or jokes about subjects like your race, religion, disability or age;
    • displaying sexist, racist or other offensive pictures or posters;
    • sexually suggestive remarks or gestures;
    • inappropriate physical contact, such as touching, patting, pinching or punching;
    • physical assault, including sexual assault.
  • Harassment can consist of a single incident or several incidents over a period of time. [17]

Harassment in the workplace

  • Harassment at work is any conduct based on age, disability, HIV status, sex, sexual orientation and other factors that is unreciprocated and unwanted and affects the dignity of men and women at work.31 Sexual harassment refers to “where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”. [31]

Hate crime

  • The victimization of any person who has experienced a criminal offence committed against a person, a group of people, or property which was motivated by that person’s or group’s apparent belonging to a segment of the population identified by skin colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. [26]

Hate group activity

  • Representing some of the most destructive forms of human rights-based discrimination in that they promote hatred against identifiable groups of people. Hate groups generally label and disparage people who may include immigrants, people with disabilities, members of racialized, religious or cultural groups, or people who are gay or lesbian.Hate Propaganda Ideologies and beliefs transmitted in written, verbal or electronic form in order to create, promote, perpetuate or exacerbate antagonistic, hateful and belligerent attitudes and action or contempt against a specific group or groups of people. [2]

Health promotion

  • Any planned combination of educational, political, regulatory and organizational supports for actions and conditions of living conducive to the health of individuals, groups or communities. Health promotion is also the process of enabling people to improve and increase control over their health. In health promotion, therefore, health is seen as a resource for everyday living, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. [58]

Healthy relationship

  • You make decisions together.  It is okay to disagree with each other.  Partners cooperate.  You have other friendships, family and activities in your life.  You feel comfortable and safe with your partner.  You respect your partner, and she/he respects you.  Communication is open and honest.  Intimacy is pleasant for both.  There is no abuse or violence. [59]


  • Heterosexism is the concept that heterosexuality and only heterosexuality is natural, normal, superior, and required. This can refer to any institution or belief system that excludes or makes invisible questioning, lesbian, non-labeling, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gay people, as well as any system that constructs queer sexualities as deviant, wrong, or immoral. Heterosexism is deeply rooted in the culture and institutions in our society. Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia all stem from and are supported by heterosexism. [14]
  • The belief in the inherent superiority of heterosexuality and thereby its right to dominance. An ideological system and patterns of institutionalized oppression that deny, denigrate and stigmatize any non-heterosexual form of behaviour, identity, relationship or community. [2]

History of domestic violence

  • Any actual, attempted, or threatened abuse/maltreatment (physical; emotional; psychological; financial; sexual, etc.) toward a person who has been in, or is in, an intimate relationship with the perpetrator. This incident did not have to necessarily result in charges or convictions and can be verified by any record (e.g., police reports; medical records) or witness (e.g., family members; friends; neighbours; co-workers; counsellors; medical personnel, etc.). It could be as simple as a neighbour hearing the perpetrator screaming at the victim or include a co-worker noticing bruises consistent with physical abuse on the victim while at work. [48]


  • Homelessness describes the situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. [103]

Homelessness and violence 

  • Domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many women. Research reveals that domestic violence is one of the most common causes of homelessness for families because it can affect a woman’s risk of becoming homeless. Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated from support networks and financial resources by their abusers. As a result, they may lack steady income, employment history, credit history, and landlord references. They also often suffer from anxiety, panic disorder, major depression, and substance abuse.
  • Studies also suggest that many women experiencing homelessness are survivors of domestic violence. [60]
  • Perpetrators of violent attacks on the homeless are primarily young White males, although available data indicate that perpetrators range in age from 11 years to 65 years old. Victims, too, are from all age groups, from infants as young as 4 months old to the elderly. The data show, however, that most victims are men; in 2004, for instance, there were 296 homeless male victims identified as violence victims, compared with 44 homeless female victims. Nevertheless, women are more vulnerable to specific types of violent crime, such as rape and sexual assault.
  • Violence is also more likely to be a cause of homelessness for women than for men. Research indicates that a large percentage of homeless women-in one study, in fact, 92%-have experienced severe physical and/or sexual assault at some point in their lives, often as children in the homes of their parents. A majority of homeless women have been victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) as adults, with as many as one third of homeless women reporting IPV victimization as ongoing or recent. In studies of urban homelessness, more than half of cities show IPV to be a primary causal factor in homelessness. Domestic violence service providers also report that battered women and their children may be forced to return to abusive households because they have no other alternative for housing; their only option would be homelessness.


  • Homophobia is the irrational fear and hatred of those who love and sexually desire those of the same sex. Homophobia ranges from dislike and avoidance of homosexuals, to discrimination against them in employment, to acts of violence sometimes referred to as “gay bashing”. The word phobia implies an irrational fear. [14]
  • Homophobia is the fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. It can also mean hatred or disapproval of homosexual people, their lifestyles, sexual behaviors or cultures. [17]

Human rights

  • Human rights affirm and protect the right of every individual to live and work without discrimination and harassment. Human Rights policies and legislation attempt to create a climate in which the dignity, worth and rights of all people are respected, regardless of age, ancestry, citizenship, colour, creed (faith), disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender, marital status, place of origin, race, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. [2]

Human trafficking

  •  Human Trafficking [1] is defined in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (“Trafficking Protocol”), which has widespread international support with 147 signatories, including Canada as:
    (a) “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
    (b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
    (c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
    (d) “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age 
  • In plain language trafficking in persons involves each of the following elements:
    • Acts: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person
    • Means: threats, use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception or abuse of power
    • Purpose: forced labour or services, slavery or servitude. [61]
  • The victimization of any person who has been transported, transferred, and/or harboured, both within Canada and internationally, against their will and exploited for use in slavery or slavery-like conditions, sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced marriages, or for other purposes. [12]
  • Trafficking in humans is a form of modern day slavery. It is the transportation and exploitation of women, men, and children within or across countries for a variety of purposes. Humans are trafficked by use of force, abduction, fraud, and coercion. Trafficking activities include recruiting individuals, transporting and transferring them from their home country or region to other transshipment points and to destination countries, receiving such trafficked persons, and keeping them in custody or housing them. Many forms of trafficking exist. Young girls and women are common targets of commercial sexual exploitation. They may be forced into prostitution and other sexual activities such as for the production of pornography. There are accounts of women servicing 30 men a day and children trapped in pornography rings. Others become human containers in the transportation of drugs through forced ingestion of condoms or other containers of illegal substances. Labor servitude is another type of trafficking affecting men, women, and children that can be found in nearly every area of industry. For example, children are used to make clothing, women are transported to become housekeepers and nannies, and trafficked laborers can be found in sweatshops, factories, agricultural fields, and fisheries. Victims may work long hours in unpleasant, unsanitary, or dangerous conditions for low wages, sometimes unable to take breaks or leave the facility. In some instances, debts may be passed on to other family members or even entire villages from generation to generation, creating a constant supply of indentured servants for traffickers. [1]


Immigrant abuse

  • Sponsored immigrant and refugee women are especially vulnerable to abusive relationships. For immigrant women who do not speak English, their spouses may be their only link to the outside world. Spiritual Abuse is the use of a belief system to control, degrade or punish a woman. This can include:
    • Using religion to control a woman’s behaviour
    • Punishing or ridiculing a woman for her religious beliefs
    • Preventing a woman from practicing her religious beliefs
    • Putting down or attacking her spiritual beliefs. [22]


  • Incest as defined by the Survivors of Incest Anonymous World Services Offices:
    • Incest is any sexual behavior imposed on the child by a family member, including extended family members such as teachers or clergy. Sexual contacts may include a variety of verbal and/or physical behaviors; penetration is not necessary for the experience to count as incest. [11]
    • As defined by Adult Children of Alcoholics Incest Survivors (OCOA) Incest is an act of power against a child that takes a sexual form. We define incestuous acts to include suggestive or seductive talk or behavior directed at a child; any unwanted invasive touching, including kissing, wrestling and tickling; non-medical enemas; showing a child pornography or nudity; sexual fondling; oral sex; sodomy; and/or intercourse. Incest survivors come from both sexes and all economic and social backgrounds, races, religions nationalities and sexual preferences. [11]

Indicated interventions

  • Indicated interventions focus on high-risk individuals who have detectable problems, such as perpetrators of domestic violence or sexual offenders. For example, some prisons conduct mandated programs for violent offenders. [31]

Internalized racism

  • Conscious or subconscious incorporation and acceptance of negative stereotypes and images from media, folklore, of historical accounts, etc, that define and portray persons of colour as inferior. [25]

Internalized racist oppression

  • Internalized racist oppression is the internalization by racialized people of the images, stereotypes, prejudices and myths promoted about racialized people in this country. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, people of our own racial group or other racialized people are based on these racist messages we receive from the broader system. It is a multi-generational process. [12]
  • Patterns of mistreatment of racialized groups and acceptance of the negative stereotypes created by the dominant group become established in their cultures and lock members of racialized groups into roles as victims of oppression. [2]

Interpersonal violence

  • Interpersonal violence occurs in the context of a relationship.  Relationships may be intimate, sexual, professional, casual, familial, caregiver, etc.  Often a certain level of trust exists in these relationships.  We understand it to include physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, financial and psychological violence.  Interpersonal violence also refers to any continued humiliation, manipulation, or control exerted through social media and other technologies. [46]
  • Refers to violence between individuals, and is subdivided into family and intimate partner violence and community violence. The former category includes child maltreatment; intimate partner violence; and elder abuse, while the latter is broken down into acquaintance and stranger violence and includes youth violence; assault by strangers; violence related to property crimes; and violence in workplaces and other institutions. [34]


  • Intersectional analysis starts from a recognition that people have plural identities, and that different types of discrimination and disadvantage can occur and intersect as a consequence of these different identities.  It aims to address the manner in which racism, patriarchy, class oppression and other systems of discrimination create inequalities that structure the relative positions of women.  It takes account of historical, social and political contexts and also recognizes the unique individual experiences resulting from the coming together of different types of identity. [85]

Intersectional identities

  • Intersectional identities is the concept that a person’s identity does not rest on solely one factor, e.g., sexual preference, race, gender, etc. Hence, no single element of one’s identity is necessarily supreme, although certain identities can take precedence over others at certain times. [14]

Intersectional perspective

  • Recognizes “how multiple forces work together and interact to reinforce conditions of inequality and social exclusion.” An intersectional perspective recognizes that each person occupies many different social locations. “Social locations” are categories that prescribe attributes and denote power differentials and include such categories as: race, gender, age, faith and class. [18]

Intimate femicide

  • Intimate femicide refers to the killing of women by current or former partners; however, it can also include women killed by other family members (e.g. sons, fathers). Globally, women are much more likely than men to be assaulted, raped, or killed by a current or former partner. Intimate femicide most often occurs within relationships where there is a history of intimate partner violence. [92]
  • See also femicide

Intimate partner violence

  • Describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. Although women can be violent against their male partners and violence may be found in male-male and female-female partnerships, it is well accepted that the overwhelming burden of partner violence around the world is borne by women at the hands of men. [62]

Intimate relationship

  • Intimate relationships include those between opposite and same sex partners. They vary in duration, and legal formality, and include current and former  dating, common law and married couples. [4]

Invitation to sexual touching

  • Every person who, for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a person under the age of 16 years 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 person under the age of 16 years. [36]


  • A term recently coined to refer to expressions of negative stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. [2]


Learned helplessness

  • Learned helplessness is the acquisition of the belief that attempting to escape from a negative situation is futile due to a previous situation in which escape was not possible. It is learning that nothing an individual does will affect what will happen to him or her, and, therefore, the individual does nothing to escape from the situation. Symptoms of learned helplessness include passivity, anxiety, depression, increased health problems, lower self-esteem, lack of motivation, and a general disinterest in life. [1]

Legal abuse or legal bullying

  • Legal Abuse or Legal Bullying is often one of the few forms of abuse available to an abusive partner. The overreaching goal of Legal Abuse is to maintain his control over his partner, to intimidate her, to prevent her from moving on with her life and/or to wear her down to the point she agrees to his demands. The Family Court System is very susceptible to this form of abuse. It becomes both victim and accomplice. There is always the possibility of a legitimate "material change" in circumstances and often it is assumed that people are acting in "good faith". Child Support and special expenses, for example, can vary widely throughout a child’s development. There may also be changes with regard to access or custody that legitimately require the assistance and intervention of the court system. The assumption made by the courts is that the person initiating the process is doing it for the good of the children and for no improper purpose. In cases where there has not been a history of abuse, that is likely true. In situations of violence and abuse, the court room can become an abuser’s only access to their former partner. Legal Abuse/Bullying can take many forms:
    • Bringing repeated motions on issues that have already been decided and for which a material change in circumstances has not occurred
    • Failure to produce documents or information required in the court proceeding
    • Seeking repeated delays for no real reason
    • Repeatedly changing lawyers
    • Representing himself, even when he has no financial reason to do so
    • Making malicious and unfounded reports to the courts and other officials about the woman. This is not done to promote his legal position; the purpose is to impact the woman in an emotionally and psychologically harmful way. These include allegations of drug use, mental health issues, promiscuity and that she is an unfit parent.
    • Appealing decisions even when there is no possibility of success
    • Failure to obey court orders, especially pertaining to restraining orders and orders for costs. A number of issues can arise when an abuser decides to represent himself;
      • Documents may be prepared inappropriately or incorrectly, thus slowing down the process
      • The abuser may try to have direct contact with his ex-partner, creating safety issues for her and the children
      • Pre-trial negotiations are likely to be unsuccessful as the abuser’s focus is not on resolution but on the ongoing control of his ex-partner
      • The judge may bend over backwards to assist the self-represented party, thus creating an uneven playing field in the court room.
      • The abuser may drain her financial resources by making voluminous phone calls and sending endless correspondence to her lawyer
      • Her lawyer may also be put in the position of mediator, having to provide him with procedural information – not only does she pay for this, but it can erode the trust been client and attorney. [22]


Male survivors of sexual abuse

  • Male sexual abuse is defined as any non-consensual act of sexual coercion and/or  domination which threatens the physical and/or psychological well being of a boy or male adolescent or adult. These acts involve a misuse of power and may or may not involve physical force. Male sexual abuse can occur in one's family of origin, in trust relationships with older youth or adults, in institutional settings that house boys or male adolescents (e.g., residential treatment centers), in peer groups and social clubs and in dating relationships. Male sexual abuse includes - but is not limited to - unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual exposure, unwanted exposure to pornography, sexual harassment, incest, child prostitution, sexual assault and rape. Perpetrators of male sexual abuse can include parents, siblings, extended family members, family friends, dates, intimate partners, acquaintances, peers and strangers. [64]


  • With reference to race and culture, the experience of persons who do not speak the majority group’s language, cannot find work or gain access to social services and therefore, cannot become full and equal participating members of society. Refers also to the process of being “left out” of or silenced in a social group. [2]
  • The position of certain individuals or groups that do not have full and equal access to, and cannot participate fully in, the social, economic, cultural and political institutions of society. Marginalization can occur as a result of a number of factors, alone or in combination. These factors might include, but are not limited to, poverty, discrimination, a lack of education and training, or disadvantaged geographic or social location. For example, the marginalized workers are those who are employed on short-term contracts with low wages and no health or other benefits, little opportunity for skill development or advancement and those who face regular periods of unemployment at a living wage with health and other benefits. Individuals in the mainstream work world also tend to have opportunities for professional development and growth and careers with some upward mobility. [10]

Masculinities and violence 

  • Masculinities refer to the culturally constructed social norms for behavior, comportment, and characteristics assigned to men and boys. Scholars talk about multiple masculinities instead of a singular masculinity because the category varies according to context, culture, geographic location, and historical period. Masculinities are relevant to interpersonal violence because the research indicates that establishing and defending a masculine sense of self is fundamentally important to many men’s use of violence. Much of men’s violence is perpetrated in response to threats to the man’s sense of masculinity. This response is true of violence against strangers, acquaintances, and intimates. It is especially important to distinguish between sex and gender when studying human behavior such as violence because this distinction has implications for the prevention of violence as well as for effective interventions. [1]

Media violence 

  • Acts of violence that are witnessed or virtually perpetrated through various forms of media including television, movies, video games, music and internet. [65]


  • Misogyny is the hatred of women. Misogyny also refers to contempt for the qualities that are associated with femininity, whether exhibited by women or by men. Misogyny is synonymous with sexism. It is relevant to interpersonal violence because antipathy toward women shapes the forms, meanings, and motives for violence as well as the responses to it. Misogyny also influences the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and the structure of social institutions in patriarchal cultures. Although the relevance of misogyny may be most readily apparent in the dynamics of woman abuse, it has also been linked by the research to additional forms of violence. [1]

Murder of Aboriginal women and girls because of their gender

  • Aboriginal women and girls experience exceptionally high levels of violence, with a greater risk of femicide than all other women in Canada. The increased risk of violence for Aboriginal women and girls is rooted in colonial and patriarchal values, residential schools, and intergenerational trauma. Precarious situations, such as economic insecurity, are also experienced as a result of these systemic issues, leading to a greater likelihood of violence. [94]
  • See also femicide

Murder of women and girls in the name of "honor" ("Honor-based killing")

  • Murders in the name of “honor” refer to the killing of women/girls because their behavior (e.g. choice of partner, education, employment; dressing “inappropriately”; premarital sex) is viewed as having casted shame upon their family. Honor, from the perspective of the murderer, is seen as restored to the family only upon the death of the woman or girl. These killings are usually perpetrated by male family members and take many forms, including: stoning, stabbing, burning, beheading; forcing women/girls to commit suicide; and disfiguring women/girls with acid, resulting in death. Killings frequently take place in public to influence other women in the community. [92]
    We have chosen to refer to murder in the name of “honor” as such based on the Academic Council on the United Nations System’s report on femicide. However, there is debate regarding the use of this term. Groups opposed to its use feel that it categorizes the murder of women and girls by the perpetrator’s rationale, and prefer the use of the term ‘femicide’ or ‘family femicide’. It is important to note that there is no ‘honor’ in murdering women and girlsSee also femicide

  • See also femicide

Murder of women and girls because of their sexual orientation or gender identity

  • Lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women and girls are subject to high levels of physical violence, often exceeding the level of violence present in other hate crimes, and resulting in death. Sexual assault may also be used in these crimes as a method of persecution against women who are viewed by perpetrators as having violated traditional sexual or gender norms. [93]
  • See also femicide




  • Neglect, which is a form of abuse, occurs when the person providing care to a woman consistently leaves her alone, without access to food, a phone, medication or a bathroom. [52]

Non-intimate femicide

  • Non-intimate femicide involves the killing of women ‘by someone without an intimate relationship with the victim’. It can involve sexual femicide and/or serial killing. Sexual femicide involves sexual aggression; however, It should also be noted that the sexual aspect of the homicide may not be evident through investigation which could lead to cases being classified incorrectly. Serial killings of women often motivated by misogyny or hatred of women, classifying these murders as femicide. [92]
  • See also femicide

Non-offending parents of maltreated children

  • Non-offending parents of maltreated children are those parents who do not actually commit the abuse against the child, but who are responsible for protecting the child after the abuse. For example, when a child is physically abused by a mother, the father is the non-offending parent. The majority of literature on nonoffending parents is written about parents of sexually abused children. Sexual abuse is different from other types of child maltreatment in that the vast majority of offenders are male and non-offending parents are female. Because of the disproportionate representation of the poor in child welfare, there is also an overrepresentation of poor single mothers. This overrepresentation and the historical bias of considering the mother primarily responsible for the child also contribute to the emphasis by child welfare on non-offending mothers rather than on non-offending fathers. Thus, when a child is sexually abused, regardless of whether a mother or father figure is available, the mother is typically assumed to be responsible for the ongoing care, protection, and support of the child. [1]

Non-consensual sharing of intimate images

  • Involves the distribution of intimate images to third parties without the consent of the person shown in the image. [89]
  • Images are often distributed as a form of revenge against a former partner, and may have been taken without the victim's knowledge or consent, or may have been shared consensually in the context of a former intimate relationship with the expectation that such images would be kept private.

Non-contact unwanted sexual experience

  • Unwanted experiences that do not involve any touching or penetration, including someone exposing their sexual body parts, flashing, or masturbating in front of the victim, someone making a victim show his or her body parts, someone making a victim look at or participate in sexual photos or movies, or someone harassing the victim in a public place in a way that made the victim feel unsafe. [65]


Obsessive behaviour

  • Any actions or behaviours by the perpetrator that indicate an intense preoccupation with the victim. For example, stalking behaviours, such as following the victim, spying on the victim, making repeated phone calls to the victim, or excessive gift giving, etc. [48]


  • An accused defendant in a criminal case or a person convicted of a crime. [17]


  • The unilateral subjugation of one individual or group by a more powerful individual or group, using physical, psychological, social or economic threats or force, and frequently using an explicit ideology to sanction the oppression. Refers also to the injustices suffered by marginalized groups in their everyday interactions with members of the dominant group. The marginalized groups usually lack avenues to express reaction to disrespect, inequality, injustice and lack of response to their situation by individuals and institutions that can make improvements. [14]
  • Use of political power and domination to maintain an unjust system against an identified group of people commonly felt and expressed by a widespread, if unconscious, assumption that a certain class of people are inferior.

Organized crime related femicide

  • Organized crime related femicide involves femicides associated with gangs, drug and/or human trafficking, and gun proliferation. This type of killing can involve abduction, torture and sexual assault, murder and mutilation, decapitation, and ‘the public display and/or dumping of naked bodies and/or body parts in empty wastelands’. Violence against women in drug culture symbolizes gang cohesion and masculinity, and serves to threaten the enemy. Women are also viewed as disposable objects in drug culture, reinforced by their use as drug mules without concern for their well-being. [93]
  • See also femicide

Overt aggression

  • Expression of aggression through any of the following behaviors; hit, kick or punch others, say mean things to others to insult them or put them down; call others mean names; punch or shove others around, threaten to physically hurt another. [67]

Overt discrimination

  • Either the granting or denying of certain rights to certain groups or individuals. [10]


Partner assault

  • Partner assault or battering is defined in many ways. It is when a woman is repeatedly subjected to ANY type of intimidation by a husband, boyfriend or ex-lover. This takes on many forms, such as threats or physical force. The purpose is to control her behaviour by putting her in a state of fear. [3]

Partner Assault Response (PAR) programs

  • A component of Ontario’s Domestic Violence Court program, are specialized counseling and educational services offered by community-based agencies to people who have assaulted their partners. Some offenders are ordered to attend the PAR program by the court. PAR programs aim to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable for their behaviour. The 16-week long program gives offenders the opportunity to examine their beliefs and attitudes towards domestic abuse, and to learn non-abusive ways of resolving conflict. 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. [68]


  • Patriarchy in its wider definition means the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over women in society in general. It implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that women are deprived of access to such power. It does not imply that women are either totally powerless or totally deprived of rights, influence, and resources. [14]
  • The norms, values, beliefs, structures and systems that grant power, privilege and superiority to men, and thereby marginalize and subordinate women. [2]


  • A person who commits an offense or crime. [17]
  • Domestic violence occurs in adult or adolescent intimate relationships where the perpetrator and the victim are currently or have been previously dating, cohabiting, married or divorced. They may be heterosexual, gay, or lesbian. The relationships may be of a long or short duration. Behaviorally, battering may look to an outside observer like stranger-to-stranger violence (e.g., simple assault, aggravated assault, homicide, sexual assault, harassment, kidnapping, hostage-taking, stalking, property damage, arson, menacing). Unlike the attacker in stranger violence, the domestic violence perpetrator has ongoing access to the victim, knows the victim's daily routine, and can continue to exercise considerable physical and emotional control over the victim's daily life. His relationship with the victim gives him social, if not legal, permission to use such abuse. [69]

Perpetrators of sexual violence

  • Perpetrators of sexual violence are not usually strangers but someone known to the person such as a parent, partner, caregiver, professional, teacher, co-worker, boss, coach, friend or acquaintance, clergy, or a person in a position of trust. It occurs in domestic settings but it is not domestic violence. It also occurs during war and armed conflicts being either systematic or incidental. [59]

Physical abuse

  • Is the intentional infliction of pain or injury by:
    • Slapping, shoving, punching kicking, burning, stabbing and/or shooting, poisoning
    • "Caring" in an abusive way including giving too much medication, keeping confined, neglecting or withholding care
    • Using a weapon or other objects to threaten, hurt or kill
    • Sleep deprivation – waking a woman with relentless verbal abuse. [22]
  • This is the easiest to identify. This form of assault includes pushing, shoving, choking, slapping, throwing objects and the use of weapons. Assault is committed when the abuser attempts or threatens to use force. [3]
  • Physical abuse may consist of just one incident or it may happen repeatedly. It includes using physical force in a way that injures someone - or puts them at risk of being injured- including beating, hitting, shaking, pushing, choking, biting, burning, kicking, or assaulting with a weapon. Other forms of physical abuse may include, for example, rough handling, confinement, or any dangerous or harmful use of force or restraint. [50]
  • Physical abuse, which includes an act that is intentional, reckless, or threatened, or something that is not done, that causes injury. [44]
  • Physical abuse occurs when someone causes a woman physical harm by hitting, burning, or rough handling her; or restraining her from moving about or leaving a room (using physical force, alcohol or medication). [52]

Physical health effects

  • The effects of violence on a victim's health are severe. In addition to the immediate injuries from the assault, battered women may suffer from chronic paingastrointestinal disorderspsychosomatic symptoms, and eating problems. Although psychological abuse is often considered less severe than physical violence, health care providers and advocates around the world are increasingly recognizing that all forms of domestic violence can have devastating physical and emotional health effects. Domestic violence is associated with mental health problems such as anxietypost-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Women who are abused suffer an increased risk of unplanned or early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. As trauma victims, they are also at an increased risk of substance abuse. According to a U.S. study, women who experience intimate partner abuse are three times more likely to have gynecological problems than non-abused women. [70]

Physical violence

  • Physical violence, including threats of violence, hitting with fists or weapons, with or without physical injury, is the most commonly understood form of abuse. All forms of physical violence are crimes under the Criminal Code. [37]
  • Physical violence is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to, scratching; pushing; shoving; throwing; grabbing; biting; choking; shaking; slapping; punching; burning; use of a weapon; and use of restraints or one’s body, size, or strength against another person. [71]


  • Pimps are persons who financially benefit from the earnings of women and girls involved in prostitution or in the sex trade industry. They may be the intimate partner of the individual in prostitution, or they may serve in the more professional capacity as agent or manager. Because research shows that the majority of pimps control women and girls through violence and intimidation, many women and girls are trapped in prostitution because they are unable to leave safely. [1]


  • Polyvictimization refers to the experience of multiple victimizations of different kinds, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullying and exposure to family violence, not just multiple episodes of the same kind of victimization. [100]

Post separation violence

  • Statistically, separation substantially elevates a woman’s risk for death or serious physical injury. Over time this risk decreases; however, many women report that for years and even decades after separation, abuse continues. Types of Post Separation Violence include;
    • Continued intimidation, control and isolation
    • Financial Abuse, e.g., restricting her access to joint assets, failing to pay support or paying support late, refusing to contribute to joint debts, driving up legal costs
    • Stalking – following, parking in front of or near her home or place of employment, constant phone calls and text messages
    • Indirect communication through friends and family
    • Questioning of woman and/or children about her whereabouts and actions
    • Assault
    • Threats of death or physical harm
    • Improper use of police and Children’s Aid
    • Physical or emotional harm to children
    • Sexual Assault/Sexual Manipulation
    • Verbal and Emotional Abuse
    • Property Violation. [22]

Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • The syndrome currently called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has long been recognized in survivors of interpersonal violence such as military combat and sexual assault. However, it was not until the 1980 publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) that PTSD was officially codified in the psychiatric nomenclature. The current DSM-IV criteria stipulate the following for a PTSD diagnosis: (a) exposure to a traumatic event accompanied by (b) intense feelings of helplessness, horror, or fear, and followed by © more than one month of (d) clinically significant distress arising from three categories of symptoms: (1) re-experiencing symptoms (intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, intense physiological or emotional responses when reminded of the trauma), (2) avoidance and/or numbing symptoms (effortful evasion of thoughts, feelings, people, or places that are reminiscent of the trauma; amnesia about the trauma; reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities; emotional detachment from others; reduced capacity for pleasure; or expectations of a truncated future), and (3) elevated arousal or arous-ability symptoms (insomnia, irritability, distractibility, hypervigilance, or exaggerated startle reactions). [1]


  • Poverty is a universal problem known to human beings since time immemorial. The concept of poverty has been defined in different ways ranging from the social structural to a social psychological level. Overall, a universal definition of poverty may neither be meaningful nor always useful. For example, the average income of African Americans and Mexican Americans in U.S. dollars may be several times higher than that of slum dwellers of Cairo, Dhaka, Calcutta, or Saigon. That, however, does not mean that poverty-stricken families of color in the United States experience any less deprivation than those others. Although international comparisons of poverty are important, the problem should basically look at relatively localized perceptions and impact. [1]


  • Power is the ability to exercise control. Having access to systems and resources as legitimated by individuals and societal institutions. [14]
  • That which allows one group to name and classify subordinate groups and to subject them to differential treatment. [2]
  • Involves the control of, or the ability to access, influence, or manipulate economic, political, educational, and/or social structures. The location of power at any given time is the direct result of historic, social, economic and political events. With power, comes privilege; i.e. the ability to meet the needs and desires of some over others. [10]

Power and control tactics

  • A pattern of behaviour involving coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, using male privilege, minimizing the seriousness of abusive behaviour, denial of harm, etc. [4]


  • Prejudice is a positive or negative attitude toward a person or group, formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge--will not be likely to change in spite of new evidence or contrary argument. Prejudice is an attitude. [14]
  • A state of mind; a set of attitudes held by one person or group about another, tending to cast the other in an inferior light, despite the absence of legitimate or sufficient evidence; means literally to “pre-judge” considered irrational and very resistant to change, because concrete evidence that contradicts the prejudice is usually dismissed as exceptional. Frequently prejudices are not recognized as false or unsound assumptions or stereotypes, and, through repetition, become accepted as common sense notions. When backed with power, prejudice results in acts of discrimination and oppression against groups or individuals. [2]


  • Approaches and activities to reduce the likelihood of a health-related issue affecting an individual, to interrupt or slow the progress of the problem. There are several types of prevention, which includes Primordial, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. [24]

Primary health care

  • Primary health care is at the centre of a community-based health care system. It focuses on a person’s health and well-being. It brings individuals, families, and health and community organizations together to take an active role in identifying and delivering health services in their communities. [25]

Primary prevention

  • The primary prevention of violence aims to stop violent incidents occurring. Primary prevention is the most effective form of prevention but also the most difficult to achieve. Policy initiatives to address poverty and inequity could be classified as primary prevention activities in relation to violence, as could those directed at controlling the availability of firearms. Primary prevention is often unattractive to politicians because upstream preventive activities are not visible unless they are linked with service provision. Sustained nurse home-visiting of mothers with young children is an evidence-based primary prevention strategy that does link with service provision and is widely acknowledged to improve outcomes for children and reduce their risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of abuse. [31]

Primordial prevention

  • Prevention of risk factors, beginning with a change in social or environmental conditions. [24]

Prison violence

  • Sexual assault, or rape, within the prison environment is a serious and complex problem. It is defined as the carnal knowledge, oral sodomy, sexual assault with an object, or sexual fondling of a person forcibly or against that person’s will. Prison rape also refers to such acts when a person cannot legally consent due to minor status or mental disability or when such acts are achieved through the exploitation of the fear or threat of physical violence or bodily injury. Further, prison rape includes acts perpetrated by inmates on other inmates as well as acts perpetrated by staff on inmates. Acts of rape are reported to occur at all levels of correctional facilities-public and private units, male and female units, jails, and juvenile facilities.
  • Victims of prison sexual assault are more likely to be new, young inmates who are easily taken advantage of and who do not yet understand the social rules of the prison environment. Although physical force to obtain sex does take place in female units, physical force occurs more often in male units. Female prison rapists tend to be more subtle in their attacks, using mental and emotional manipulation before sex is forced. Correctional staff members have also been found to be involved in sexually assaulting inmates. If brought to the attention of correctional administrators, these officers will usually lose their jobs; however, much like violence against inmate perpetrators, formal charges are rarely filed against them. [1]


  • Privilege is an “unearned advantage” that works to “to systematically over-empower certain groups” in our society. Privilege assigns dominance simply based on race, sexuality, or gender, among other factors of identity. Privilege is “an invisible package of unearned assets” that members of privileged groups “can count on cashing in every day,” but about which they “are meant to remain oblivious.”
  • The experience of freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded members of the dominant group in a society or in a given context, usually unrecognized and taken for granted by members of the majority group, while the same freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages access and/or opportunities are denied to members of the minority or disadvantaged groups. [2]


  • Although prostitution cannot be said to be a new phenomenon, the current scope of the $16 billion global industry is unprecedented. The vast majority of the women and girls meeting this current worldwide demand are those whose low-income, race and ethnicity, and other status (such as being victims of childhood sexual molestation) make them receptive to the recruitment strategies the industry employs. The fact that the overwhelming majority of women in prostitution regularly begin to sell sex for money when they are teens means that the industry rests on child sexual exploitation. The abuse women and girls experience from customers, managers, recruiters, pimps, and other middlepersons indicates the degree to which the sex trade industry serves as a facilitator of violence against needy girls and women. [1]

Psychological and emotional abuse 

  • Is the use of systemic tactics and behaviour intended to control, humiliate, intimidate, instill fear or diminish a person’s sense of self-worth, including;
    • Verbal aggression
    • Forcibly confining a woman
    • Stalking/harassment
    • Deliberately threatening behaviours (e.g., speeding through traffic or playing with weapons)
    • Threatening to harm or kill children, other family members, pets or prized possessions
    • Threatening to remove, hide or prevent access to children, or threatening to report the woman to the Children’s Aid Society
    • Threatening to put the woman in an institution
    • Threatening to commit suicide/attempting suicide
    • Controlling a woman’s time, actions, dress, hairstyle, etc.
    • Denying affection or personal care
    • Taking away a woman’s teletype writer (TTY), medication, hearing aids or guide dog
    • Belittling a woman through name calling or descriptions such as " stupid", " crazy" or "irrational"
    • Accusing a woman of cheating or being promiscuous
    • Leaving a woman without transportation or any means of communication. [22]
  • This form of abuse induces the greatest state of fear. Often, the reason for this is that physical abuse has been committed making the threat of violence a FACT not a myth. Types of abuse include threats to oneself, threats against pets, family, friends, and the children, terrorizing the abused by playing with a knife or gun in front of her, isolating her from her family or friends.  This form of abuse is designed to wear the victim down and successfully keep her in a state of fear. [3]

Psychological and emotional violence 

  • Involves trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources. It is considered psychological/emotional violence when there has been prior physical or sexual violence or prior threat of physical or sexual violence. In addition, stalking is often included among the types of IPV. [62]

Psychological health effects

  • Experiencing abuse or an attack can lead to serious mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Some abused women try using drugs, alcohol, smoking, or overeating to cope, but this can lead to greater physical and emotional problems. [72]
  • When a person has a depressive disorder, it hurts their daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most that have it need treatment to get better. [72]
  • People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to cause it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least six months. It affects about 6.8 million adult Americans and about twice as many women as men. [72]


  • Living through or seeing something that’s upsetting and dangerous can cause PTSD. This can include: being a victim of or seeing violence, the death or serious illness of a loved one; war or combat car accidents and plane crashes hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires violent crimes, like a robbery or shooting. [73]
  •  Symptoms of PSTD include: Bad dreams, flashbacks (or feeling like the scary event is happening again), scary thoughts you can’t control, staying away from places and things that remind you of what happened, feeling worried, guilty, or sad, feeling alone, trouble sleeping, feeling on edge, angry outbursts, thoughts of hurting yourself or others. Children who have PTSD may show other types of problems. These can include: behaving like they did when they were younger, being unable to talk, complaining of stomach problems or headaches a lot, refusing to go places or play with friends. [73]



  • Queer is an umbrella identity term encompassing lesbians, questioning people, gay men, bisexuals, non-labeling people, transgendered folks, and anyone else who does not strictly identify as heterosexual. “Queer” originated as a derogatory word. Currently, it is being reclaimed by some people and used as a statement of empowerment. Some people identify as queer to distance themselves from the rigid categorizations of “straight” and “gay”. Some transgendered, lesbian, gay, questioning, non-labeling, and bisexual people, however, reject the use of this term due its connotations of deviance and its tendency to gloss over and sometimes deny the differences between these groups. [14]


Race relations

  • The pattern of interaction, in an inter-racial setting, between people who are racially different. In its theoretical and practical usage, the term has also implied harmonious relations, i.e., races getting along. Two key components for positive race relations are the elimination of racial intolerance arising from prejudicial attitudes, and the removal of racial disadvantage arising from the systemic nature of racism. [2]

Racial discrimination

  •  According to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (to which Canada is a signatory), racial discrimination is any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, which nullifies or impairs the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. [2]

Racial minority

  • A term which applies to all people who are not seen as White by the dominant group including Aboriginal, Black, Chinese, South Asian, South East Asian and other peoples. Sometimes used instead of Visible Minority. The term that many people now prefer is “people of colour” as a more positive term that does not define groups by comparison to the dominant group. [2]

Racial profiling

  • Any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or differential treatment. Profiling can occur because of a combination of the above factors, and age and/or gender can influence the experience of profiling. (OHRC). [2]

Racial slurs

  • Insulting or disparaging statements directed towards a particular racial or ethnic group. Racist incidents express racist assumptions and beliefs through banter, racist jokes, name calling, teasing, discourteous treatment, graffiti, stereotyping, threats, insults, physical violence or genocide. [2]


  • The process through which groups come to be designated as different and on that basis subjected to differential and unequal treatment. In the present context, racialized groups include those who may experience differential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, economics, religion, culture, politics, etc. That is, treated outside the norm and receiving unequal treatment based upon phenotypical features. [2]


  • Groups used to acknowledge “race” as a social construct and a way of describing a group of people. It is the process through which groups come to be designated as different and on that basis subjected to differential and unequal treatment. In the present context, racialized groups include those who may experience differential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, economics, and religion. [14]


  • Racism is racial and cultural prejudice and discrimination, supported intentionally or unintentionally by institutional power and authority, used to the advantage of one race and the disadvantage of other races. The critical element that differentiates racism from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviours in systemic ways with far- reaching outcomes and effects. [14]
  • Prejudicial attitudes, as well as discriminatory practices, towards individuals of a certain ethnic/racial background. [17]
  • A mix of prejudice and power leading to domination and exploitation of one group (the dominant or majority group) over another (the non-dominant, minority or racialized group). It asserts that the one group is supreme and superior while the other is inferior. Racism is any individual action, or institutional practice backed by institutional power, which subordinates people because of their colour or ethnicity. [2]


  • Refers to an individual, institution, or organization whose beliefs and/or actions imply (intentionally or unintentionally) that certain races have distinctive negative or inferior characteristics. Also refers to racial discrimination inherent in the policies, practices and procedures of institutions, corporations, and organizations which, though applied to everyone equally and may seem fair, result in exclusion or act as barriers to the advancement of marginalized groups, thereby perpetuating racism. [2]


  • Sexual intercourse without consent (sometimes by force or deception). Rape can occur between a husband and a wife if one of the partners does not consent to the sexual activity. Rape is one kind of sexual assault. [15]
  • Any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent. Rape is separated into three types, completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, and completed alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.
    • Among women, rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes vaginal or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.
    • Among men, rape includes oral or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object. [66]
  • Rape is defined as vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by the penis or any other object without consent of the other person.
  • Rape as defined by the United Nations
    • Rape was defined in September 1998 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, sitting under United Nations jurisdiction in Arusha, Tanzania, as “a physical invasion of a sexual nature, committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive.”
  • Rape as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice
    • An event that occurs without the victim’s consent, that involves the uses or threat of force to penetrate the victim’s vagina or anus by penis, tongue, fingers or object, or the victim’s mouth by penis, whether attempted or completed. [11]

Rape Culture

  • Many prevailing societal attitudes justify, tolerate, normalize and minimize sexual violence against women and girls. While often subtle, these persistent attitudes are integrated with and rooted in rape myths, stereotypes, and oppressive beliefs. This phenomenon is popularly referred to as ‘rape culture’. Rape culture impacts various groups of women differently. For instance, while influencing all of us, rape culture sets up some groups as more likely to be targeted for sexual violence and to be disbelieved or blamed for the violation they experience (e.g., women of colour, impoverished women, women living with disabilities, trans-identified women and other women). Our culture requires transformation in order for women to have the right to sexual integrity, equality and justice. [88]

Relational aggression

  • Also known as indirect or social aggression. Relational aggression is defined as behaviours which harm others through damage or threat of damage to friendships of group inclusion. These can include manipulation, controlling, belittling, demeaning, rejecting, and exclusionary behaviour in a social context. They also include damage or threat of damage to reputation. Behaviour may be verbal or non-verbal, direct or indirect. They are often subtle, have  profound effect on the victim, but may be lass easy for an outsider to identify. Both males and females engage in relational aggression but it is often associated more with girls. [74]


  • As a result of disrespect and abuse some women report they experience through various systems. May occur in shelters, on the street, in institutions and co-ed services. Lack of understanding of the importance of being trauma- informed. [7]

Revenge Porn

  • When a former partner posts images or videos created while the relationship was still intact or that were shared by a partner for private use in order to "get revenge". [89]
  • This can also include images or videos captured during incidents of sexual assault, recordings made with a hidden camera, or images stolen from personal computers.
  • It is important to note that revenge porn is highly gendered, with 90% of victims identifying as women. [89]


  • The term revictimization refers to a pattern wherein the victim of abuse and/or crime has a statistically higher tendency to be victimized again, either shortly thereafter or much later in adulthood in the case of abuse as a child. This latter pattern is particularly notable in cases of sexual abuse. While an exact percentage is almost impossible to obtain, samples from many studies suggest the rate of revictimisation for people with histories of sexual abuse is very high. The vulnerability to victimization experienced as an adult is also not limited to sexual assault, and may include physical abuse as well. [21]
  • Revictimisation of adults who were previously sexually abused as children is more complex. Multiple theories exist as to how this functions. Some scientists propose a maladaptive form of learning; the initial abuse teaches inappropriate beliefs and behaviors that persist into adulthood. The victim believes that abusive behavior is "normal" and comes to expect it from others in the context of relationships, and thus may unconsciously seek out abusive partners or cling to abusive relationships. [21]


  • A risk is a danger that is incompletely understood and can be forecast only with uncertainty. The danger we are concerned with is domestic violence, which is a complex event. Violent acts can vary greatly with respect to such things as motivations of the perpetrator, nature of the relationship with the victim/survivor, or nature of physical harm. Therefore, risk is multi-faceted and cannot be conceptualized simply, by trying to quantify the probability that someone will engage in domestic violence. Instead, you must also consider the nature, seriousness, frequency or duration, and imminence of any future violence. Also, risk is inherently dynamic and contextual. The risk posed by perpetrators depends on such things as where they will reside, what kinds of services they will receive, whether they will experience adverse life events. For example, a perpetrator’s risk for domestic violence may decrease if he no longer resides with the victim/survivor, if he receives appropriate substance use treatment, if he establishes or maintains stable employment or if he has a good support personal system of family and friends. [19]

Risk Factor

  • A risk factor is a condition or circumstance that that has been found to be associated with domestic homicides in previous research. This condition or circumstance precedes the occurrence of the danger and may influence a perpetrator’s decision making. In other words, a risk factor increases the likelihood of danger. While it is critically important to pay attention to and manage risk factors, we should not confuse risk factors with the underlying causes of violence. A risk factor may prompt a perpetrator to act on a violent urge, but it is not the reason for embracing violence as a way to get what he wants. In the case of domestic violence risk assessment, risk factors should be supported by science (e.g., have statistical and empirical support and have demonstrated predictive validity), by practice (e.g., are practical and useful and have strong theoretical foundations), and by law (e.g., are reasonable, logical, and fair). Some examples of important risk factors for domestic violence are employment problems, substance use, mental health problems, relationship problems and periods of heightened tension, such as significant anniversaries. Information about risk factors is critical for violence risk assessment and management because it helps you understand what risks may be posed by the perpetrator and how to manage those risks. For instance, if substance use problems are identified as an important risk factor for violence in a particular case, efforts can be taken to monitor, treat, or supervise the perpetrator’s use of substances. [19]

Risk Management 

  • A systematic approach to assess and respond to risk by identifying, assessing, understanding, acting on and communicating risk issues amongst community partners who are working with the victim of abuse or the abuser. [18]
  • Risk Management is taking action to prevent violence from happening, often in collaboration with other service providers and the potential victim/survivor. The victim/survivor’s children may also be at risk and should be included in the assessment and management strategies. Management strategies should focus on what should be done in health care, social service, education, victim/survivor services, workplace and legal settings to manage the potential violence risks posed by a person. Specifically, decisions should be made about general strategies that can be used to manage violence risk, such as Partner Assault Response Programs, substance use and mental health intervention, as well as specific tactics that can be taken to manage violence risk, such as referral to Partner Assault Response Programs, detox, inpatient substance use intervention, outpatient substance use intervention, employee assistance programs, or alcoholics anonymous, taking into account practical issues that can affect availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability, and appropriateness access of services (e.g., cost, location, transportation, waiting times). Once a referral has been made, it is important to follow-up to ensure that the person was able to access that service, or that appropriate alternative action was taken. [19]


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. [19]


  • 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. [2]

Serial killing of women

  • Serial killings of women are often motivated by misogyny or hatred of women, classifying these murders as femicide.
  • See also femicide.

Serious sexual offence

  • Should be interpreted broadly, but generally connotes cases involving one or more of the following:
    • Significant physical, emotional or psychological harm to the victim or to the victim’s family
    • Sexual intercourse or other direct genital contact
    • Bodily harm and/or the use of weapons
    • Protracted sexual abuse
    • A breach of trust or abuse of authority by the offender
    • Victims of tender years
    • Special needs victims
    • Victims who are particularly fragile or vulnerable
    • Multiple victims
    • Historical allegations of sexual offences (including cases of institutional abuse or ritual/cultural abuse). [68]


  • Sexism is a belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to or less valuable than the other and can also refer to a hatred or distrust towards either sex as a whole, or creating stereotypes of masculinity for men or femininity for women. It is also called male and female chauvinism. Sexism can refer also to any and all systemic differentiations based on the gender of a person, not based on their individual merits. In some circumstances this type of sexism may constitute sex discrimination. [14]
  • Prejudice or discrimination, especially against women, on the basis of their sex. [75]
  • 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. [2]


  • Sharing "sexy", nude, or partially nude images of oneself with others via cell phone.
  • The non-consensual forwarding of these images is an emerging issue of concern, especially among teens. [89]

Sexual abuse

  • Is any form of forced sexual activity, including unwanted sexual touching, sexual relations without voluntary consent and the forcing or coercing of degrading, humiliating or painful sexual acts, including:
    • Rape
    • Forcing or pressuring a woman into sexual acts
    • Forcing a woman into prostitution
    • Preventing a woman from receiving information or education about sexuality
    • Forcing a woman to become pregnant, have an abortion or have an operation to prevent pregnancy. [22]
  • Sexual assault/abuse, is any unwanted or non‐consensual act of a sexual nature. Sexual assault/abuse may range from threats of a sexual nature, to unwanted kissing, unwanted touching, and/or forced penetration of the mouth, vagina, and/or anus. It is an act of control over the victim. It is NOT an act of sexual passion. Sexual assault is a criminal offence. [44]
  • Sexual abuse occurs when someone exposes him/herself to a woman in a sexual way, makes sexual comments, forces her to have sex/ perform sexual acts or to look at sexual material. [52]
  • Forced sex, distasteful or painful sexual activity, exposure to AIDS or other sexually-transmitted diseases, refusal to permit the use of birth control. [28]
  • Sexual abuse and exploitation includes all forms of sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual exploitation. [2] Forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity, or using ridicule or other tactics to try to denigrate, control or limit their sexuality or reproductive choices is sexual abuse.

Sexual assault

  1. Sexual assault can be any unwanted touching of a sexual nature. [15]
  2. A term used to refer to all incidents of unwanted sexual activity, including sexual attacks and sexual touching. [68]
  3. This starts with belittling women through sexual jokes, name calling and unwanted touches. Also includes ANY forced sexual contact and is often accompanied by threats of violence or actual violence. [3]
  4. In legal terms, sexual assault occurs when a person touches you in a sexual manner without your consent.  More specifically, sexual assault can involve anything from unwanted touching of a sexual nature to forced penetration.  It is always a violent act that has negative emotional effects, whether or not there are physical injuries. A sexual assault can also occur when someone threatens to sexually assault you and has the ability to follow through on that threat immediately. Sexual assault also includes sexual abuse that happened in the past. Sexual contact may be illegal in relationships where: one person is in a position of authority over the other (e.g., doctor) and/or there is a relationship where one person is dependent on the other (e.g., babysitter). The penalties for committing these different types of sexual offences vary.  Here is how the Criminal Code describes adult sexual assault.  There are three levels:
    • Sexual assault (level 1) – involves minor physical injuries or no injuries to the victim
    • Sexual assault (level 2) – involves sexual assault with a weapon, threats or causing bodily harm
    • Sexual assault (level 3) – results in wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim. [17]
  5. Any type of forced sex constitutes sexual assault under the Criminal Code of Canada, including forced sex between married partners. The Code also covers and punishes sexual assault with a weapon, sexual assault facilitated by threatening a third party, and sexual assault which causes bodily harm. [17]
  6. Sexual assault is any form of unwanted sexual activity that is forced upon a person without that person’s consent. Sexual assault can range from unwanted sexual touching to forced intercourse. While most sexual assaults are perpetrated against women, both women and men can and are sexually assaulted. The Criminal Code of Canada recognizes that individuals cannot always speak up and say no. She or he may be disabled, intoxicated, intimidated or coerced into agreeing to sexual activity. If the assailant used force, threats, or lied about their actions, the courts can decide that consent was not freely given. The definition of consent as it relates to sexual assault is found in section 153(2) and (3) of the Criminal Code of Canada. According to the law, there is no consent in any of the following situations.
    1. the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant;
    2. the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity;
    3. the accused counsels or incites the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
    4. the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity; or
    5. the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.
  7. Offences related to sexual assault include: sexual assault; sexual assault with a weapon; threats to a third party or causing bodily harm; and aggravated sexual assault. Certain situations can magnify the gravity of a sexual assault, such as when the assailant is in a position of trust or authority over the individual, when there is excessive violence or multiple assailants involved, or when physical harm or injury results. [44]
  8. An adult female/male 18 years of age or older who is assaulted by another person in a manner which consists of any unwanted sexual act. [12]

Sexual assault/rape crisis centres

  • Female 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
    • Information and referral services. [50]

Sexual coercion

  • Unwanted sexual penetration that occurs after a person is pressured in a nonphysical way. In NISVS, sexual coercion refers to unwanted vaginal, oral, or anal sex after being pressured in ways that included being worn down by someone who repeatedly asked for sex or showed they were unhappy; feeling pressured by being lied to, being told promises that were untrue, having someone threaten to end a relationship or spread rumors; and sexual pressure due to someone using their influence or authority. [66]

Sexual exploitation

  • 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. [74]

Sexual exploitation of person with disability

  • Every person who is in a position of trust or authority towards a person with a mental or physical disability or who is a person with whom a person with a mental or physical disability is in a relationship of dependency and who, for a sexual purpose, counsels or incites that person to touch, without that person’s consent, his or her own body, the body of the person who so counsels or incites, or the body of any other person, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object. [76]

Sexual femicide

  • Femicide that involves sexual aggression; however, It should also be noted that the sexual aspect of the homicide may not be evident through investigation which could lead to cases being classified incorrectly. [92]
  • See also femicide.

Sexual harassment

  • Sexual harassment means that someone is bothering you by saying or doing unwanted or unwelcome things of a sexual or gender-related nature. For example, someone who makes unwelcome sexual or gender-related remarks and gestures by:
    • touching you inappropriately
    • making offensive jokes or remarks about women or men
    • staring at or making unwelcome comments about your body
    • displaying sexually offensive pictures
    • being verbally abusive to you because of your gender
  • Sexual harassment does not have to be sexual in nature. It can also mean that someone is bothering you simply because you are a woman. Making stereotypes about one gender or the other can be a form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur in many circumstances. [17]

Sexual harassment and a "poisoned environment" 

  • Sexual harassment can have a bad effect on, or "poison", the places where you live, work or receive services. Even if the harassment is not directed at you, it can still poison the environment for you or others, for instance, if certain sexual or gender-related comments or actions make you or others feel uncomfortable in the workplace or unwilling to return to work, this could indicate that the work environment is poisoned. [17]

Sexual harassment and reprisal 

  • A person who has authority or power denies you something important, punishes or threatens you for refusing a sexual request, or for complaining about inappropriate sexual behaviour or comments. [17]

Sexual Harassment in employment and housing 

  • Someone says or does something to you of a sexual nature that you do not welcome. This includes behaviour that a person knows or ought to know you do not welcome. Your boss, landlord, or other authority figure uses their position of power to sexually harass you. By being in a vulnerable situation, it is difficult for you to speak out about the situation. The person in authority uses the position to help them get away with unwelcome sexual comments or actions. [17]

Sexual interference

  • Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years. [76]

Sexual jealousy

  • The perpetrator continuously accuses the victim of infidelity, repeatedly interrogates the victim, searches for evidence, tests the victim’s fidelity, and sometimes stalks the victim. [2]

Sexual solicitation or advance 

  • A person suggests that if you become sexually involved with him or her, he or she will give you a better grade or some other type of incentive. [17]

Sexual violence

  • Sexual violence is a broad term that describes a continuum of aggression, abuse and violence. It includes but is not limited to sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, (date, marital, partner, stranger, gang), ritual abuse, sexual harassment, incest, childhood sexual abuse, molestation, stalking, indecent/ sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, exhibitionism, dissemination of sexual photographs electronically (cyber harassment), rape during armed conflict, trafficking and sexual exploitation. 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. [59]
  • A broad term that describes any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.  This violence takes different forms including sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse and rape during armed conflict. It also includes sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, cyber harassment, trafficking and sexual exploitation. [77]
  • An umbrella term that describes the range of assault, abuse, harassment, and other offences of a sexual nature.  The term sexual violence is used to demonstrate the criminal nature, level of harm, impact of the power and control, as well as the range of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological trauma, offenses of a sexual nature can cause. [44]
  • Sexual violence is any form of non-consensual or forced sexual activity or touching, including rape. All forms of sexual violence are crimes under the Criminal Code. The term “sexual assault” encompasses a wide range of criminal acts ranging from unwanted sexual touching to sexual violence involving weapons, and is categorized according to three levels of severity. The term “sexual offence” refers to the three levels of sexual assault as well as other sexual offences which are designed primarily to protect children. [37]
  • Sexual violence can take many forms including date rape, sexual harassment and sexual assault. [17]
  • A broad term that describes any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This violence takes different forms including sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse and rape during armed conflict. It also includes sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, cyber harassment, trafficking and sexual exploitation. [19]
  • Nonconsensual completed or attempted contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus involving penetration, however slight; nonconsensual contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus; nonconsensual penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; nonconsensual intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks; or nonconsensual non-contact acts of a sexual nature such as voyeurism and verbal or behavioral sexual harassment. All the above acts also qualify as sexual violence if they are committed against someone who is unable to consent or refuse.
  • Sexual violence is divided into five categories:
    •  A completed sex act (as defined below) without the victim’s consent, or involving a victim who is unable to consent or refuse (as defined below).
    •  An attempted (non-completed) sex act without the victim’s consent, or involving a victim who is unable to consent or refuse (as defined below).
    •  Abusive sexual contact (as defined below).
    •  Non-contact sexual abuse (as defined below).
    •  Sexual violence, type unspecified.
    • Inadequate information available to categorize into one of the other 4 categories. [78]

Sibling Violence

  • Sibling violence is the physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse of one sibling by another. [101]

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. [86]

Social justice

  • A concept premised upon the belief that each individual and group within society is to be given equal opportunity, fairness, civil liberties and participation in the social, educational, economic, institutional and moral freedoms and responsibilities valued by the society. [14]
  • A concept premised upon the belief that each individual and group within society is to be given equal opportunity, fairness, civil liberties and participation in the social, educational, economic, institutional and moral freedoms and responsibilities valued by the society. [2]

Social location

  • Reflects the many intersections of our experience related to race, religion, age, physical size, sexual orientation, social class, and so on.  Social location contributes not only to our understandings of the ways in which our major institutions work, but also to our ability to access them. [18]

Societal or social violence

  • Societal or social violence is perpetrated through direct person to person contact and by using popular media to reinforce negative messages.  This kind of violence includes advertisements that use images of violence against women to sell products, popular news media’s focus on “Islamic terrorists” or “black youth gangs,” or stigmatization from mental health labels, one’s substance use, age, race, single parent status, ability, sexual orientation, etc. [46]

Spiritual abuse

  • Spiritual abuse includes using a person's religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate or control them. It may include preventing someone from engaging in spiritual or religious practices, or ridiculing their beliefs. [50]
  • Spiritual abuse, including preventing a person from participating in activities connected with their faith. [44]
  • Ridicule or punishment for holding a religious or cultural belief, forbidding practice of a person's religion or forcing adherence to different practices. [28]

Spousal abuse

  • The violence or mistreatment that a woman or a man may experience at the hands of a 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. There are many different forms of spousal abuse, and a person may be subjected to more than one form. [50]
  • Spousal abuse refers to physical or sexual violence or psychological or financial abuse within current or former marital or common-law relationships, including same-sex spousal relationships. The broader category of intimate partner abuse encompasses spousal violence and violence committed by current or former dating partners. [37]

Spousal homicide

  • Spousal homicide refers to the killing of a marital or common-law partner and includes first and second degree murder and manslaughter. [37]

Spousal violence

  • Term used by Statistics Canada to refer to self-reported physical and sexual violence as defined by the criminal code. Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization in 1999 and in 2004 measured spousal violence against men and women through telephone interviews with respondents who were married or living common-law at the time of the survey interview, or who had been married or in a common-law relationship within the 5-year period preceding the survey and who had had contact with their ex-partner during that time interval. [4]

Spouse/partner offences

  • Crimes involving the use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships include those between opposite sex and same sex partners. They vary in duration and legal formality, and include current and former dating, common law and married couples. [25]


  • Includes the behaviour of harassing or threatening another person, in a devious and repetitive manner, especially in a way that haunts the person physically or emotionally. The stalking of an intimate partner can take place during the relationship, with intense monitoring of the partner’s activities, or after a partner or spouse has left the relationship. Stalkers may be trying to get their partner back, or they may wish to harm her as punishment for her departure. Regardless of the form, the victim fears for her safety. [22]
  • Stalking is a crime which Canadian criminal law calls criminal harassment. Canada’s Criminal Code states that no person can, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed (or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed):
    • repeatedly follow the other person, or anyone known to them, from place to place;
    • repeatedly communicate with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
    • "beset" or watch a place where the other person is visiting, lives or works;
    • or engage in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.
  • The Code prohibits trespassing on another's property at night, uttering threats, indecent or harassing phone calls, intimidation and mischief to another person's property. The law now protects you even if the conduct of the stalker is not done with the intent to scare you. It is enough if it does scare you.  Actions that might be acceptable in a normal, loving relationship could become criminal harassment when one of the persons wants the relationship to end and the other does not. For example, in these circumstances, giving someone roses, in some cases, is considered to be stalking as could repeat visits, telephone calls or waiting for the victim after work. Everybody has a right to end a relationship. A former spouse or partner should stop communicating with you if you have told them that their attention is not welcome. [17]
  • Generally refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. These actions may or may not be accompanied by a credible threat of serious harm, and they may or may not be precursors to an assault or murder. [79]

State violence

  • State violence is seen to occur when governing bodies or institutions, legislation, policing and military bodies are the perpetrators of violence.  Examples of such violence include deportation, dual charging, arrests or imprisonment, child apprehension, discreditation of sex trade workers’ experience of sexual violence, the Indian Act, and acts of war. [19]


  • Stereotype is a set of beliefs, generalized about a whole group of people. [14]
  • A fixed mental picture or image of a group of people, ascribing the same characteristic(s) to all members of the group, regardless of their individual differences. An over-generalization, in which the information or experience on which the image is based may be true for some of the individual group members, but not for all members. Stereotyping may be based upon misconceptions, incomplete information and/or false generalizations about race, age, ethnic, linguistic, geographical or natural groups, religions, social, marital or family status, physical, developmental or mental attributes, gender or sexual orientation. [2]

Structural inequality

  • Social groups based on ethnicity, race, tribe, gender, or cultural differences are systematically disadvantaged compared with other groups with which they co-exist. Structural inequality exists “when unequal status is perpetuated and reinforced by unequal relations in roles, functions, decision rights, and opportunities that are intricately bound up in a web of inter-dependence. [18]

Structural violence

  • Denotes a form of violence which corresponds with the systematic ways in which a given social structure or social institution prevents people from meeting their basic needs. [18]
  • “Structural violence” refers to the physical and psychological harm that result from exploitative and unjust social, political and economic systems. The apartheid system, based on racial discrimination in South Africa, is a classical case of structural violence in which the state set in place unjust laws and systems which disempowered, marginalized and disenfranchised the majority black population. These and related human rights violations are 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”. [34] Farmer, for example, demonstrated the link between the emergence and persistence of AIDS and TB in Haiti and their disproportionate impact on the poor to the enduring effects of European expansion, slavery and racism; economic dependence on the United States; and attempts to erase, or forget, this history. [35] Forms of structural violence operate globally against women, children, indigenous peoples and those in poverty. [34] Structural violence may both underlie and be an outcome of modern armed conflicts. [31]

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 and unintentionally. This occurs in institutions and organizations where the policies, practices and procedures (e.g. employment systems – job requirements, hiring practices, promotion procedures, etc.) exclude and/or act as barriers to racialized groups. Systemic discrimination also is the result of some government laws and regulations. [14]
  • An act, practice, or policy that is applied consistently to all people but which results in unequal, unfair, or unfavourable treatment of a person or group. [18]

Systemic violence

  • Systemic violence is violence that occurs within a system or institution.  This type of violence can be difficult to identify as it quickly becomes normalized in society.  It includes things like the lack of safe and affordable housing, the dismissive and blaming practice of psychiatrizing women, cuts to support services, OW and ODSP rates and policies, strip searches, and police presence in schools.


Targeted killing of women in armed conflict

  • Both state and non-state actors perpetrate physical, sexual, and psychological violence against women and girls as a ‘weapon of war’. Such actions are intended to ‘punish or dehumanize women and girls, and to persecute the community to which they belong’. They are also used as a method of instilling fear, domination, and control. Targeted killings are premeditated, with lethal force intentionally used against selected victims. [93]
  • See also femicide.

Threat assessment

  • The formal application of instruments to assess the likelihood that intimate partner violence will be repeated and will escalate. The term is synonymous with the use of instruments specifically developed to identify potentially lethal situations. [18]

Tertiary prevention

  • Tertiary prevention aims to treat and rehabilitate victims and perpetrators. Approaches focus on long-term care in the wake of violence, such as rehabilitation and reintegration, and attempts to lessen trauma or reduce the long-term disability associated with violence. Examples include psychological therapies for abused children; screening and support services for victims of intimate partner, domestic or family violence; and specific recognition of the needs of survivors of torture. [31]

Trauma- and Violence- Informed Care

  • Trauma- and violence-informed care (TVIC) expands the concept of trauma-informed care to emphasize the intersecting impacts of systemic and interpersonal violence and structural inequities on a person’s life. [98] This shift acknowledges both historical and ongoing interpersonal violence and their traumatic impacts and helps to emphasize a person’s experiences of past and current violence so that problems are not seen as residing only in their psychological state [99] but also in social circumstances.

Trauma-informed Care and Practice

  • Trauma-Informed Care and Practice is a strengths-based framework grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasises physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. [96]
  • According to SAMHSA, the concept of a trauma-informed approach, “A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed, is one that: Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization." [97]


  • Two-spirit means different things to different people and different communities. One of the most commonly cited understandings of the term is a person who possesses both masculine and feminine spirits; however, two-spirit is used throughout English-speaking communities on Turtle Island to distinguish the wide variety of Indigenous concepts of gender and sexual diversity as separate from the European gender binary, which was violently imposed on Indigenous communities through Christianization and the residential school system. Within Indigenous cosmologies, gender and sexual diversity are viewed holistically, with people of many genders and sexualities holding important roles in families and communities. For some people two-spirit is a gender identity, while others use it to describe their sexual orientation, and still others as a spiritual identity (and some a combination of these elements). [105]


Universal Interventions

  • Universal interventions addressing violence are aimed at the general population, or groups within it (for example those of a certain gender or age bracket) without regard to individual risk. Examples include developing educational and training programs against bullying in schools, or reducing population alcohol consumption by regulating sales and increasing prices to prevent alcohol-related violence. [31]

Unwanted sexual contact

  • Unwanted sexual experiences involving touch but not sexual penetration, such as being kissed in a sexual way, or having sexual body parts fondled or grabbed. [66]


Victim blaming

  • Insinuating that the victim was somehow responsible for his or her own victimization. [1]


  • The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation. [34]

Violence against women

  • Any act of gender‐based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry‐related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non‐spousal violence and violence related to exploitation; physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere; trafficking in women and forced prostitution; and physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs. [44]
  • Violence against women means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:
    • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
    • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
    • Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs. [76]
  • A manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women. Violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared to men.  The term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Accordingly, violence against women encompasses but is not limited to the following:
    • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.
    • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
    • Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs. [76]
  • Acts of violence against women also include forced sterilization and forced abortion, coercive/forced use of contraceptives, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection. [18]

Violence against women with disabilities

  • Violence against individuals with disabilities can take many forms, which can occur at the same time. It occurs not only as deliberate maltreatment and abuse, but also in the more passive form of neglect:
    • Neglect - denial of food, lack of or inappropriate personal or medical care
    • Physical abuse - assault, rough or inappropriate handling, inappropriate personal or medical care, over-use of restraint, inappropriate behaviour modification, over-medication, confinement
    • Psychological abuse - verbal abuse, intimidation, social isolation, emotional deprivation, denial of the right to make personal decisions, threat of having her children taken away
    • Sexual abuse - denial of a woman's sexuality, denial of sexual information/education (e.g. about birth control and childbirth), verbal harassment, unwanted sexual touching, assault, forced abortion or sterilization
    • Financial exploitation - denial of access to and control over her own funds, misuse of financial resources.

Violent resistance

  • Violent resistance is one of three major forms of partner violence defined by Johnson. He developed this control-based typology in response to contrasting findings within the partner violence literature concerning the use of violence by women and the frequency, severity, and consequences of partner violence. Violent resistance is physical violence used by one partner in response to intimate terrorism, a form of physical violence utilized as a part of a larger web of control and power that usually involves economic control, isolation, intimidation, and psychological abuse. Intimate terrorists are almost always men who seek to dominate and control “their women,” ultimately entrapping them in a highly coercive, dangerous relationship typically involving escalating and frequent violence. Since violent resistance involves a victim fighting back against an intimate terrorist, it is predominately used by women. [1]


  • Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if
    • the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;
    • the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or
    • the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose. [76]


White supremacy

  • White supremacy is a system, historically constructed by white peoples and nations, to exploit and oppress nations and peoples of color. The point of the system is to maintain and perpetuate wealth, power and privilege for nations and peoples of European descent. White privilege is also a system, institutionally based, that (1) rewards and privileges white people solely because of their skin color and European origins; and (2) exempts whites and European-descended peoples from oppression. White supremacy anchors white privilege and racial oppression in our society, meaning that it is not simply about individual prejudice. Individual and organizational acts of racial prejudice are rooted in, and replicate, an entire social construct of white supremacy. [14]

Woman abuse

  • A pattern of male behaviour characterized by power and control tactics against a woman, which may or may not involve physical assault. The spectrum of abuse ranges from insults through to life-threatening injuries and even murder. Woman abuse can take one, two, or more of these forms: emotional abuse (e.g., degrading comments, withholding health card or immigration documents); economic abuse (e.g., denying access to money); sexual abuse (e.g., forcing sexual activity); spiritual abuse (e.g., preventing participation in faith-based observances); environmental abuse (e.g., making the home setting aversive for partner); physical abuse (e.g., punching, kicking, choking). Used interchangeably with “violence against women.” [4]
  • Woman abuse involves the intent by a woman’s intimate partner (dating, common-law, legally married or estranged) to intimidate her, either by threat or by use of physical force on her person or property. The purpose of the assault is to control her behaviour by the inducement of fear, either by forcing her to do what he wants or by preventing her from doing as she wishes. Underlying all abuse is a power imbalance between the victim and the perpetrator. [22]
  • Woman abuse is any threat, act or physical force that is used to create fear, control or intimidate you. [77]
  • A pattern of male behaviour characterized by coercive control tactics against a woman that may, or may not, involve physical assault. [28]
  • Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm, or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Woman abuse can be:
    • Physical, including, punching, kicking, choking, stabbing, mutilation, disabling, murder
      • Sexual, including, rape, any unwanted touching or act of a sexual nature, forced prostitution
      • Verbal/Psychological, including, threats to harm the children, destruction of favourite clothes or photographs, repeated insults meant to demean and erode self-esteem, forced isolation from friends and relatives, threats of further violence or deportation if the woman attempts to leave
      • Stalking, including, persistent and unwanted attention, following and spying, monitoring of mail or conversations
      • Financial, including, taking away a woman's wages or other income, limiting or forbidding access to the family income, and other forms of control and abuse of power. [18]

Workplace harassment

  • Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Workplace harassment may include bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidating phone calls. [78]

Workplace violence

  • The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker; An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; A statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker. [80]
  • Workplace violence has received increased attention around the world in the last decade. Definitions vary in the emphasis they place on physical violence versus psychological violence; recent work emphasizes the negative effects of both. [31]
  • Behavior in workplaces by persons against persons that intentionally threatens, attempts, or actually inflicts physical harm. They can also be psychologically non-violent: ostracism, leaving offensive messages, aggressive posturing, rude gestures, swearing, shouting, name-calling, innuendo, and deliberate silence. There are four types of workplace violence. In type 1, the offender has no legitimate business relationship with the workplace. In type 2, the offender is a client or customer of the victim. Type 3 involves an attack by present or former employees on coworkers. In type 4, the offender has a relationship with the victim, but no one else in the workplace. This type of violence grows out of domestic violence, and the victims are disproportionately female and represent a continuation of domestic conflicts carried to the workplace. [1]



  • An unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, their cultures and their customs. [2]


Youth Homelessness

  • Youth homelessness refers to the situation and experience of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, but do not have the means or ability to acquire a stable, safe or consistent residence. [104]

Youth Violence

  • Around the world age is a significant risk factor for becoming both a victim or a perpetrator of violence, with young males being particularly at risk. The World Health Organization defines youth violence as “homicide and non-fatal attacks perpetrated by or against a person aged 10–29 years of age” [78]. This definition explicitly includes young people as both victims and perpetrators, emphasizing the increased exposure to violence young people experience as they pass through this life stage. [31]



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