Gender-Based Violence: It’s Not Just
From: Women and Gender Equality Canada
When someone faces violence because of their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender, that’s called gender-based violence (GBV). Different forms of GBV exist everywhere, but we don’t always take them as seriously as we should. Discover what they are and how to stop dismissing them.
If you or someone you know is experiencing gender-based violence, help is available.
If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or your local police.
Gender-based violence in Canada
Gender-based violence is a serious issue that affects everyone in Canada — but especially young women. In the 12 months prior to a 2018 survey:
1 in 10
women aged 15-24 from the provinces had been sexually assaulted
6 in 10
women aged 15-24 from the provinces experienced unwanted sexual behaviours in public
3 in 10
women aged 15-24 were emotionally, financially, or psychologically abused by a partner
What is gender-based violence?
Gender-based violence is any act of violence based on someone’s gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. While we often think of it as “just physical”, GBV typically falls into these four categories:
- threats, humiliation intimidation, and insults
- controlling behaviour
- stalking or cyber-stalking
- deadnaming or denying someone’s gender identity
- isolation from friends and family
- pushing, punching, kicking, or slapping
- choking or strangulation
- restraining or locking someone in
- throwing, breaking or hitting objects
- stealing financial information, like PINs
- pressure or blackmail to give money
- controlling someone’s purchases
- preventing someone from going to work or school
- forced sexual touching or acts
- forced sexual acts with other people
- removing a condom without consent
- being forced to get naked or send a nude image
Who is affected by gender-based violence?
GBV can affect anyone due to their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. But some groups are at higher risk of experiencing GBV, including:
young women and girls (under 25)
Black and racialized women
newcomer women to Canada
women with disabilities
LGB+ people and people of other sexual orientations than heterosexual
transgender or gender diverse people
women living in Northern, rural or remote communities
Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual Plus (2SLGBTQQIA+) people
People who are part of more than one of these communities are at an even higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence.
How can I help someone experiencing GBV?
If a friend tells you they’re experiencing gender-based violence:
- Listen to them. Don’t interrupt. People need time to process an overwhelming situation – moments of silence are okay.
- Believe them. It takes courage to talk about GBV. Don’t dismiss their feelings, no matter how small the incident may seem to you.
- Let them know it was not their fault. No matter what they were doing, wearing, or saying, GBV is never the fault of the victim/survivor. Validate their feelings.
- Ask how you can help. Depending on the situation, your friend might need anything from a hug to professional support. Don’t assume what those needs are — ask, instead.
- Respect their decisions. It’s up to the person experiencing GBV to decide how they want to respond. Whatever they choose, have their back.
- Provide resources when they’re ready. Nobody experiences GBV alone. Sharing our resources can help someone experiencing GBV get more help or find support. Visit the youth resources database for services and resources offered in your area.
Stay informed about gender-based violence
What’s the difference between sexual violence from an act that’s sexual in nature? Learn the role consent plays in sexual activities, comments and more.
Safe dates and healthy relationships
Learning what healthy relationships look like helps prevent GBV in person and online. See how you can have safe dates and develop healthy relationships.
It’s not just in person
Technology-facilitated violence (TFV), also called online violence or cyberviolence, is a form of GBV in which people experience violence in the digital world due to their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. Though it’s often dismissed as “just trolling”, TFV is very harmful. It can reach individuals anywhere and can spill over into their physical or offline lives through things like doxing.
What can I do to stop gender-based violence?
GBV is all around us. If you look closely, you can find it in the shows you watch, the music you listen to, and maybe even the interactions you have with friends. GBV is rooted in gender inequality and is made worse by sexism, discrimination, racism and ableism.
It’s not just up to you. Everyone is responsible for helping to end gender-based violence. By taking it seriously, learning to recognize GBV, and apologizing and learning if you say or do something that hurts someone else, you can help prevent and stop GBV.
recognize GBV when you see it
listen to victims/survivors
take responsibility and learn as needed
Gender-based violence resources
Get more information on gender-based violence, including fact sheets, infographics, and videos.
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