Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is violence directed against a person because of their gender, or violence that affects people of a particular gender, mainly women, girls, and gender-diverse people, disproportionately. GBV takes many forms, including physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, digital, and economic violence, as well as neglect, and harassment. Negative effects of GBV often lead to inter-generational cycles of violence and abuse within families and entire communities.
There are many forms of GBV. A list of GBV-based definitions and terminology can be found here (PDF).
- In Canada, women are at a greater risk than men for all violent crimes. Further, Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people are three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victims of violence—a legacy of racism, colonialism, sexism, exclusion, and systemic violence against Indigenous and gender-diverse people.
- Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims, and 11% of missing women, while Indigenous people make up 4.3% of the population of Canada.
- According to Statistics Canada, there were 4,020 women residing in shelters for victims of abuse across Canada (as of April 18, 2018), and those are only women who could access shelters. Out of more than 630 First Nation communities, Indigenous Services Canada only supports 46 shelters on reserve, as well as limited proposal-based funding for family violence prevention projects.
- Men, whether victims of violence or perpetrators, often have access to little to no supports.
Ending GBV is vital to the health and wellness of our people and our communities. There are many ways for us all to get involved and to take action against GBV!
16 Actions YOU Can Take Against Gender-Based Violence:
1. Look for the signs
Educate yourself on the signs and risk factors of gender-based violence, which comes in many forms. If we all learn more about GBV, we can better know how to work to end its many forms.
Some of the warning signs include:
- One partner acts superior to the other, including by putting their partner down/insulting them
- One partner checks up on the other one all the time, even at work
- One partner seems fearful, nervous, unsure or passive when the other is present
- One partner is apologetic and makes excuses for their partner’s behaviour or they becomes aggressive and angry
- One partner seems to be sick more often and misses work or school or regular commitments
- One partner has frequent and unexplained bruises and injuries
For more information and resources:
- Abuse Information page – Ikwe Indigenous Crisis Shelter – Winnipeg
- Facts about Gender-Based Violence – Canadian Women’s Foundation
- MMIWG & Violence Prevention – Native Women’s’ Association of Canada
- Know the Warning Signs – Government of Canada
- Violence Against Women Fact Sheet – World Health Organization
2. Offer a Listening Ear
Let victims and survivors know you are available to listen with no judgement. Many people are afraid to talk about abuse, and feel isolated and belittled after experiencing GBV. Having someone to talk to in case there is ever an urgent situation is important and victims/survivors will appreciate your kindness.
3. Believe in others
Support survivors and those affected by violence whenever you can. Enhance and promote the social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of First Nation women, girls, and gender-diverse people.
4. Get the word out
Use social media and blogs to spread the message and engage your community on this important issue. Share some actions you have taken, or ways that people can act now to help end gender-based violence.
5. Talk to your children or grandchildren
If you are a parent or caregiver, talk to your child or grandchild about violence in general. Ask them what they might do if confronted with GBV or when witnessing GBV. Ensure they learn the signs, and brainstorm what their first steps could be when exposed to or confronted by acts of gender-based violence.
7. Take action at your workplace
Support your workplace with ensuring there are gender-based harassment and violence policies in place (if there are not already). These policies must include proper supports for any workers experiencing violence. For some tips and information on creating policies visit:
- Preventing workplace violence—Information for employers (PDF) – Canadian Red Cross
- Gender-Based Violence in the Workplace – Human Rights Watch
8. Reach out
If you need information about local gender-based violence resources or if you want to talk to an expert about a situation that worries you, call local helplines!
If you require immediate support, there is a national, independent toll free 24/7 support line at 1-844-413-6649 to speak to a counsellor. The service is available in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway), Cree, Inuktitut, and French.
For confidential help and information on violence prevention in Manitoba, call the province-wide, toll-free crisis line at 1-877-977-0007 (or text 204-792-5302 or 204-805-6682).
If you are impacted by the issue of violence and of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people, counselling and cultural support is available. More information is available at the ISC Services Page.
9. Help out a local community organization
If one doesn’t already exist, start a community organization. Have regular meetings, sharing circles, and other events where you get to know each other and talk about important issues in the community. Educate your community on gender-based violence and make sure everyone knows it will not be tolerated.
10. Call others to Action
Learn about and encourage others to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (PDF).
Find out what local violence prevention centres or shelters need. There are many ways you can help, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
12. Make a positive impact in your community
For example, parents can check if schools (including colleges and universities) have safety protocols in place to prevent violence; educators can educate students on healthy relationships, dating violence, consent, and how to help if they think someone is being abused; healthcare workers can advocate for change and help educate the community. Think of all the ways, even little ways, that you can make a difference!
13. Talk about it
Not just this month, talk about gender-based violence every month! Have conversations with the men, women, and gender-diverse people in your life.
14. Advocate with your local leadership
Contact your Chief and Council, Member of Parliament, Member of the Legislative Assembly, and other leaders. Let them know what is important for you, and what actions you want them to take to protect victims of violence, such as safe havens, supports, paid leave, as well as help and therapy for abusers themselves to end the cycle of violence.
Here are two government leaders responsible for ending gender-based violence, send them your ideas:
Room 118 Legislative Building
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
15. Combat Victim Blaming and GBV
Hypermasculine and colonial stereotypes need to be challenged! Confront and speak out against sexism, racism, ignorance, homophobia, transphobia, and all acts of gender-based violence! Encourage others to do the same, wherever and whenever it occurs.
16. Share resources
Print off or share information or tips online with your workplace, community organizations, or even in public places like schools, community centres, health centres, band offices, libraries, and more to help educate the community. Visit our MMIWG2s and violence prevention page for some ideas!