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

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 is one of the most common forms of violence against women and includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviours by an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs in all settings and among all socioeconomic, religious and cultural groups. The overwhelming global burden of IPV is borne by women. Although women can be violent in relationships with men, often in self-defence, and violence sometimes occurs in same-sex partnerships, the most common perpetrators of violence against women are male intimate partners or ex-partners.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Intimate partner violence. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Division of Violence Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html


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