16 ways to end gender-based violence
During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, learn about 16 ways you can help end gender-based violence (GBV). But don’t forget that you can help all year round, beyond the 16 days of activism!
- Acknowledge the problem. Everyone in Canada – women, men, transgender and gender diverse people – can be a victim of gender-based violence.
- Know the risks. The odds of experiencing violence are not the same for everyone. Young women and girls, Black and racialized women and girls, Indigenous women and girls, 2SLGBTQI+ and gender non-binary individuals, women in Northern, rural, and remote communities, and people with disabilities are at much greater risk of experiencing GBV.
- Stop victim shaming/blaming. Generally, victims won’t report gender-based violence cases to the police because they feel they will be shamed by their families, friends, or the offender.
- Be alert to non-physical violence. Not all gender-based violence is physical. Name-calling, stalking, harassment, control (including financial), cyber attacks, and manipulation are all forms of GBV.
- Avoid gender stereotypes: Men and boys also suffer from unfair social expectations, like having to be tough and be the main breadwinner. Women can be CEOs, girls can build great things, men can cry, and boys can like pink, just to name a few.
- Challenge social norms. Research suggests that gendered language reinforces inequality and more regressive norms. Harmful social norms that sustain GBV include ideals for women’s sexual purity or protecting family honour over women’s safety. Don’t accept phrases like “boys will be boys” or “she was asking for it” as an excuse for negative or criminal behaviours.
- Remove negative stigma. Most of sexual assaults do not come to the attention of police. A major reason is fear, shame, and embarrassment of being judged, blamed, or not believed. You can help end stigma by believing and supporting those who report being victimized by GBV.
- Educate youth. Generally, violence is a learned behaviour. Young people need to learn how to openly communicate in relationships so they can give and ask for consent, set boundaries, and speak up if they see or experience sexual violence. You can help by showing good behaviour, like being open about your own boundaries.
- Know what to do if someone asks for help. Services for survivors are essential services. If there is immediate danger, call 9-1-1. In Canada shelters, hotlines, counselling, and other supports and services for those affected by gender-based violence are available in most communities.
- Engage men and boys. The majority of men and boys do not engage in violence against women and are needed as allies to help change the culture. Men and boys can lead by example by rejecting violent behaviours toward women, girls, and non-binary people and being willing to speak out whenever they see violence or harassment directed at others.
- Recognize triggers. If you, your friends, or family are in a time of crisis, seek support and learn which local, regional, and national services for those affected by gender-based violence are available to help. Times of crises, like financial pressures from a job loss or a global pandemic, can increase the risk of GBV.
- Take action. Don’t be a bystander. Learn safe ways you can intervene if gender-based violence is happening around you, such as unwanted sexual attention in public.
- Promote gender diversity in workplaces. A lack of gender diversity in the workplace, particularly in leadership roles, can foster unsafe work environments that include harassment, like sexist jokes – a form of GBV.
- Highlight positive role models. It’s important to see others who look and act like us succeeding. Role models that reflect a range of genders, ages, and ethnicities, such as community leaders, celebrities, athletes, Indigenous elders, or teachers, help engage youth.
- Support shelters. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they try to leave their abuser. Shelters have resources and training to help victims leave safely.
- Put safety first. Do not stay in a dangerous situation if you can leave safely. Shelters can provide short-term housing, support, legal aid, and even financial help. Victim services can help you develop a plan, find ways to protect yourself, and help you get a non-criminal protection order to keep the person who abused you away from you.
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