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

You can view the terms associated with a letter by selecting the letter below. Crossed out letters do not have any terms. You can also click here for a PDF of all the included terms.



“[A] a person who has settled permanently in another country.” [1]

“You may also hear… illegal immigrant/Illegal – these terms are problematic because they criminalize the person, rather than the act of entering or remaining irregularly in a country.  International law recognizes refugees may need to enter a country without official documents or authorization. It would be misleading to describe them as ‘illegal migrants.’ Similarly, a person without status may have been coerced by traffickers: such a person should be recognized as a victim of crime, not treated as a wrong-doer.” [1]

Learn More:


 [1] Canadian Council for Refugees. (2010, Sept). Refugees and immigrants: A glossary. Retrieved from https://ccrweb.ca/en/glossary


According to the Department of Justice Canada, “every one commits incest who, knowing that another person is by blood relationship his or her parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild, as the case may be, has sexual intercourse with that person. Everyone who commits incest is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and, if the other person is under the age of 16 years, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of five years. No accused shall be determined by a court to be guilty of an offence under this section if the accused was under restraint, duress or fear of the person with whom the accused had the sexual intercourse at the time the sexual intercourse occurred.” [1]


[1] Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46). Retrieved from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-155.html


“There are three constitutionally defined Indigenous groups in Canada including First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI). To reflect the diversity of Indigenous peoples and to include all, regardless of status, nationhood, membership or community affiliation, the terms Indigenous and FNMI are applied interchangeably. It is acknowledged that many FNMI people refer to themselves differently and in their own languages.” [1]

Learn More:


 [1] Ontario Native Women’s Association. (2018) Indigenous women, intimate partner violence and housing. Learning Network Newsletter Issue 25. London, Ontario: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. ISBN # 978-1-988412-19-1. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/Issue-25/index.html

Indigenous Feminisms

“At their root, Indigenous feminisms examine how gender and conceptions of gender influence the lives of Indigenous peoples, historically and today. Indigenous feminist approaches challenge stereotypes about Indigenous peoples, gender and sexuality, for instance, as they appear in politics, society and the media. Indigenous feminisms offer frameworks for learning about and understanding these, and other issues, regardless of one’s gender or ethnicity.’

Although gender, sex and sexuality are central in Indigenous feminisms, they intersect with other aspects of people’s identities, including indigeneity (i.e., Indigenous identity), age, ability and social class.  Scholars therefore emphasize that Indigenous feminisms should consider multiple aspects of identity. To focus on only one or two creates incomplete and flawed understandings.

Indigenous feminisms are also concerned with the ways that gender is embedded in broader power relations, and with the ways that sexism, racism and colonialism are structures of oppression that operate together. Scholars Maile Arvin (of Kanaka Maoli ancestry), Eve Tuck (Unangax) and Angie Morrill (Klamath) (in addition to many other Indigenous feminists) have argued that ‘settler colonialism has been and continues to be a gendered process.’ That is, the impacts of settler colonialism are targeted and experienced differently depending on one’s gender. It is well-documented, for instance, that Indigenous women on average experience higher rates of gender-based violence, have lower incomes and have less political representation compared to Indigenous men and non-Indigenous women.  Too often these realities are ignored by settler communities and can even be disregarded within some Indigenous communities as well.” [1]


[1] Nickel, S. & Snyder, E. (2019). Indigenous Feminisms in Canada. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/indigenous-feminisms-in-canada

See also: Arvin, M., Tuck, E., & Morrill, A. (2013). “Decolonizing feminism: Challenging connections between settler colonialism and heteropatriarchy.” Feminist Formations. 25(1), 8-34. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/504601

Indigenous Masculinities

A focus upon Indigenous masculinity entails consideration of the many forces shaping how masculinity and manhood is experienced by Indigenous individuals. This entails both a resurgence of traditional ways of knowing and identifying, as well as a critical analysis of the ways in which “Indigenous men and masculinities have been profoundly impacted by colonization, hegemonic masculinities and the heteronormative patriarchal system of white supremacy.” [1]

For instance, “[t]he assimilation of invader masculinity into Indigenous masculinity led to the public face of power at least to be exclusively male. Indigenous masculine leadership came to reflect modernity’s masculinity. Similarly, Indigenous heterosexuality came to reflect such a sentiment where Indigenous women became the property of men and, thus, under these conditions were given very little say in the matter.” [2]

As a result, “traditional Indigenous masculinities were violently displaced and subordinated by colonial masculinities. The colonial milieu of white settler society with its political economic, social and cultural practices usurped Indigenous culture, tradition and gender systems.” [1] Cultural teachings therefore “offer means of regenerating an egalitarian way of life.” [1]


[1] Darcy, C. (2016) Indigenous men and masculinities: Legacies, identities, regeneration, NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, 11:2, 129-131. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/18902138.2016.1181407

[2] Hokowhitu, B. (2016). “Excerpt from Indigenous Men and Masculinities.”  Retrieved from https://uofmpress.ca/blog/entry/excerpt-from-indigenous-men-and-masculinties-brendan-hokowhitu


“The Innu Nation is the organization that formally represents the Innu of Labrador, approximately 2200 persons, most of whom live in the two Innu communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. The Sheshatsiu Innu live in the community of Sheshatshiu while the Mushuau Innu live in the community of Natuashish. Some Innu also live in other communities within Labrador and on the Island part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.” [1]

“In order to protect their interests, their land and their rights from outside forces the Innu people first organized themselves in 1976 under the Naskapi Montagnais Innu Association (NMIA). In 1990, the NMIA changed its name to the Innu Nation. Today the Innu Nation forms the governing body of the Labrador Innu.” [1]


[1] Innu Nation. (n.d.). Welcome to innu.ca! Retrieved from https://www.innu.ca


“Inuit are an Indigenous people living primarily in Inuit Nunangat.” [1]
“The majority of [the Inuit] population lives in 51 communities spread across Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland encompassing 35 percent of Canada’s landmass and 50 percent of its coastline. [Inuit] have lived in our homeland since time immemorial. [Inuit] communities are among the most culturally resilient in North America. Roughly 60 percent of Inuit report an ability to conduct a conversation in Inuktut (the Inuit language), and [Inuit] people harvest country foods such as seal, narwhal and caribou to feed… families and communities.” [2]

Learn More:


[1] Inuit Nunangat “is a Canadian Inuit term that includes land, water, and ice,” which are integral to Inuit culture and way of life.

[2] Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (n.d.). About Canadian Inuit. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Retrieved from https://www.itk.ca/about-canadian-inuit/

Intergenerational Trauma

“Intergenerational trauma is the transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations.” [1] It is “[a] collective complex trauma inflicted on a group of people who share a specific group identity or affiliation-ethnicity, nationality, and religious affiliation. It is the legacy of numerous traumatic events a community experiences over generations and encompasses the psychological and social responses to such events.” [2]

Learn More: 


[1] University of Calgary. (2012). Intervention to Address Intergenerational Trauma: Overcoming, Resisting and Preventing Structural Violence. Retrieved from https://www.ucalgary.ca/wethurston/files/wethurston/Report_InterventionToAddressIntergenerationalTrauma.pdf

[2] Evans-Campbell, T. (2008). Historical Trauma in American Indian/Native Alaska Communities. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,23(3), 316-338. doi:10.1177/0886260507312290


Internalized Oppression

“When members of a marginalized group accept negative aspects of stereotypes assigned to them by the dominant group and begin to believe that they are inferior. The incorporation by individuals within an oppressed group of the prejudices against them within the dominant society can result in self-hatred, self-concealment, fear of violence, feelings of inferiority, resignation, isolation, and powerlessness. It is a mechanism within an oppressive system for perpetuating power imbalance.” [1]


[1] The519. (n.d.). The 519’s Glossary of Terms, facilitating shared understandings around equity, diversity, inclusion and awareness. Retrieved from http://www.the519.org/education-training/glossary

Interpersonal Violence

Interpersonal violence refers to violence between individuals and can be subdivided into family and intimate partner violence and community violence.

Family and intimate partner violence includes child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse.

Community violence “is broken down into acquaintance and stranger violence and includes youth violence; assault by strangers; violence related to property crimes; and violence in workplaces/institutions.” [1]


[1] World Health Organization. (n.d.). Definition and typology of violence. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/violenceprevention/approach/definition/en/


Intersectionality is a concept and analytic framework coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw and further developed by numerous scholars, advocates, and activists. [1]  “Intersectionality is a useful framework for examining how forms of privilege and disadvantage shape women’s experiences of violence and their access to resources and supports.” [2]

“Intersectionality is made up of 3 basic building blocks: social identities, systems of oppression, and the ways in which they intersect.

  • Social Identities are based on the groups or communities a person belongs to. These groups give people a sense of who they are. For example, social class, race/ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are all social identities. A person is usually a member of many different groups or communities at once; in this way, social identities are multidimensional. An individual’s social location is defined by all the identities or groups to which they belong.

  • Systems of Oppressions refer to larger forces and structures operating in society that create inequalities and reinforce exclusion. These systems are built around societal norms and are constructed by the dominant group(s) in society. They are maintained through language (e.g. “That’s so gay”), social interactions (e.g. “catcalling” women), institutions (e.g. when school curriculum does not acknowledge residential schools), and laws and policies (e.g. immigration policies that make it difficult for new Canadians to access health services). Systems of oppression include racism, colonialism, heterosexism, class stratification, gender inequality, and ableism.

  • Social identities and systems of oppression do not exist in isolation. Instead, they can be thought of as intersecting or interacting. In other words, individuals’ experiences are shaped by the ways in which their social identities intersect with each other and with interacting systems of oppression. For instance, a person can be both black, a woman, and elderly. This means she may face racism, sexism, and ageism as she navigates everyday life, including experiences of violence.” [2]

In the case of intimate partner violence (IPV), “people of intersecting identities are affected by oppression in different ways and therefore have unique experiences of IPV and we should not assume that survivors of IPV speak with only one voice.” [3] “Intersectionality influences whether, why, how, and from whom help is sought; experiences with and responses by service providers and justice systems; how abuse is defined; and what options seem feasible, including escape and safety concerns. Policies and programs that do not include an intersectional dimension exclude survivors of IPV who exist at points of intersection between inequalities.” [4]

Learn More:


[1] Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum. 1989, iss. 1 art. 8, pp.  139-167. Retrieved from https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=uclf

[2] Baker, L., LaLonde, D., & Tabibi, J. (2017, December). Women, Intimate Partner Violence, & Homelessness.  Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-22/Newsletter_Issue_22-Online1.pdf

[3] Baker, L., Etherington, N., & Barreto, E. (2015, October). Intersectionality. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-15/Issue 15Intersectioanlity_Newsletter_FINAL2.pdf

[4] Baker, L., Straatman, A., & Etherington, N. (2015, April). Intimate Partner Violence in Rainbow Communities. Retrieved from http://www.learningtoendabuse.ca/our-work/pdfs/Rainbow_Newsletter_Print_InHouse.pdf

Intimate Partner Violence

“Intimate partner violence refers to physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse and can also be called dating violence between couples who are not married.” [1]

“Intimate partner violence often occurs as physical violence. However, there are many other forms of violence or abuse, including emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse. Intimate partner violence also has a criminal component, as it can involve criminal offences such as assault, uttering threats or harassment, and can even lead to homicide.” [2] “Most victims of intimate partner violence are female.” [2]

Learn More:



[1] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). What is family violence? Public Health Agency of Canada. Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/family-violence.html

[2] Beaupré, P. (2015). Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2013. Juristat, 34, 1. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, ON. Catalogue no. 85-002-X. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14114-eng.pdf


Islamophobia is a form of racism and consists of “a fear or hatred of Muslim people that results in discrimination, exclusion and violence against Muslims. Islamophobia is based on false and toxic ideas that Muslims are less than human, demonic, terrorists, or trying to take over the country. These toxic ideas are spread through the media and social media. Islamophobia mostly affects Muslims, but Sikhs and other groups who have been mistaken as Muslim can also face Islamophobia.” [1]

Islamophobia can be gendered in its portrayal of Muslim women as victims of their religion, exotic and hyper-sexualized, and weak or passive. [2]

Learn More:


[1] Ahmad, Sidrah. (2018). Rivers of hope: A toolkit on Islamophobic violence by and for Muslim women. Access through: https://www.riversofhopetoolkit.ca/

[2] Ahmad, Sidrah. (2018). Unlearning Islamphobia in anti-violence against women work. Learning Network Brief 34. London, Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/briefs/brief-34.html