GBV 101

Intro to GBV

Not sure what Gender Based Violence is or what it looks like? Check out the info below for definitions and examples.

What is GBV?

Gender-based violence (GBV) is the abuse of power and control over another person based on their gender, gender expression or perceived gender.

The dominant culture holds rigid, gender norms around what it means to be a man or a woman. When someone looks, behaves, or exists outside of these strict norms and gender binary, they often experience GBV in numerous ways. Anyone can experience GBV, but it disproportionately impacts women, 2SLGBTQ people, and other populations that are discriminated against (e.g. Black, Indigenous, & People of Colour, people with disabilities, etc.). (Retrieved from Status of Women Canada, 2018)

Because understandings of GBV have been structured in a heteronormative, cisnormative framework (i.e. GBV mostly impacts straight, cisgender women), we often struggle to identify GBV when it occurs outside of this framework. The ways in which we have defined who perpetuates GBV and who experiences GBV has resulted in systems, organizations, and service providers overlooking the impact of GBV on 2SLGBTQ people.

What does it look like?

While GBV can happen to anyone, violence towards 2SLGBTQ individuals can take unique forms. It’s important to notice the ways GBV uniquely impacts queer people, so that we are better able to identify and address it.

What is it

Physical abuse is when someone uses a part of their body or an object to control a person’s actions or inflict physical harm.

Examples

Hitting, choking, throwing things, locking someone in a room, etc.

Queer-Specific Example: refusing to let partner rest or heal from gender affirming surgeries.

What is it

Sexual abuse is when a person is forced to unwillingly take part in sexual activity.

Examples

Continued sexual contact after being asked to stop, forcing someone to commit unsafe sexual acts, etc.

Queer-specific example: using gender roles to control what partner does sexually (e.g. “all real men have sex this way”).

What is it

Emotional abuse is when someone says or does something to make them feel worthless.

Examples

Being overcritical, isolating someone from friends/family, etc.

Queer-specific example:  isolation from 2SLGBTQ+ groups or social spaces or blaming partner for being “too” out.

What is it

Psychological abuse is when someone uses threats and causes fear in an individual to gain control.

Examples

Destroying belongings, threatening to have someone deported, threatening to hurt someone’s pet or loved one, etc.

Queer-Specific Example: Public displays of affection in areas that are not 2SLGBTQ friendly to intimidate or scare partner or controlling how someone expresses gender or sexuality.

What is it

Cultural/identity violence is when an individual is harmed as a result of practices that are part of their culture, religion or tradition.

Examples

Using racial slurs, preventing someone from observing dress customs of their culture, etc.

Queer-specific example: denying access to a cultural practice due to 2SLGBTQ identity.

What is it

Verbal abuse is when someone uses language (spoken or written) to cause harm to an individual.

Examples

Yelling at someone, name-calling, etc.

Queer-Specific example: Using homo/bi/transphobic slurs, or not respecting words used to describe their partner’s body parts.

What is it

Spiritual/religious abuse is when someone uses an individual’s spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate, or control that person.

Examples

Ridiculing someone’s beliefs, using religion to minimize abusive behavior, etc.

Queer-specifc example: forcing someone to attend conversion therapy due to religious beliefs.

What is it

Financial abuse is when someone non-consensually controls an individual’s financial resources or misuses those resources.

Examples

Withholding a partner’s money, forcing a person to sell something etc.

Queer-specific example:  threatening to out partner to employer or Identity theft (which can be easier if the partner is the same gender).

What is it

Online Abuse/Cyberbullying is when someone directly targets a person online and enacts harmful behaviour.

Examples

Sending death threats, posting personal information or images without consent, leaving harassing comments on social media.

Queer-Specific example: ‘outing’ a queer person online, leaving a homophobic comment on someone’s Instagram post.

How do I know if I’m experiencing GBV?

Not sure if you, or someone you know, is experiencing GBV? Here are a few things to consider when evaluating whether or not GBV is taking place:

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Have a look at the list above. Are you experiencing any of the above examples? If so, you may be experiencing GBV.

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Have you experienced any actions or words that were deliberately intended to cause you harm, fear, or suffering? If so, you may be experiencing GBV.

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Remember – GBV can happen anywhere: in public or in private; between friends, family, acquaintances, or intimate partners; in the workplace (i.e. management, coworkers, or clients); when accessing services or supports (i.e. service providers, administrative staff, other clients); in religious institutions; in schools; etc.