Definitions, Myths and Facts
To build our understanding of gendered violence, its causes, and how to support survivors this page includes key terms, definitions, myths and facts and web resources.
Refers to any subtle or overt action or attitude that establishes, exploits, and or reinforces gender inequities resulting in physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or mental harm. The phrase “gendered violence” is used to highlight when acts of violence that are specifically related to an individual’s gender or how they express their gender. Gendered violence includes sexism, gender discrimination, gender harassment, biphobia, transphobia, homophobia and heterosexism, sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence.
The majority of people affected by gendered violence are women, girls, and trans people. However, individuals of all genders can be victims of gendered violence, including men and boys. Gendered violence often intersects with ableism, racism, and other forms of oppression so that experiences of gendered violence may not only be about gender, but also about other aspects of an individual’s identity.
Consent is the permanent, active, ongoing, informed, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Consent for one action does not imply consent for subsequent actions. Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated (such as by drugs or alcohol), unconscious, or otherwise unable to understand and voluntarily give consent. Consent can never be obtained through threats, trickery, coercion, pressure, or other forms of control or intimidation and may be withdrawn at any time.
Laurier student groups such as Not My Laurier, LSPIRG, and Advocates for a Student Culture of Consent (ASCC) have put together information to help members of the Laurier community understand consent.
Any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, or threatened. Sexual assault is carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed, consented to, or is incapable of consenting to. (Ontario Women’s Directorate)
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault
Involves the perpetrator making use of alcohol and/or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) to control, overpower or subdue a victim for purposes of sexual assault. (Ontario Women’s Directorate)
A complex set of beliefs, values, and practices that excuse, normalize, and condone sexual violence, either explicitly or implicitly. Rape culture refers to how we all think and do things in our lives that make sexual violence seem normal. This includes over-emphasizing false rape reports, blaming the victim for their assault, and condoning violent music lyrics that overlook the trauma associated with sexual violence.
Both "survivor" and "victim" are used to refer to a person who has personally experienced gendered violence. The use of the term “victim” is prevalent in legal and medical contexts, and the term “survivor” is often used by activists and advocates. A person may prefer “victim,” “thriver,” or any number of terms to describe themselves and their experience. It is important to respect the language preferences of the person who has experienced the violence.
Wilfully, maliciously, and repeatedly engaging in behaviours or conduct over a period of time that are threatening or that cause fear. Stalking behaviours may include: repeated and unwanted phone calls, texts, or Internet contact; sending unwanted gifts; showing up at a place of work or home; or following, watching or tracking.
Child Sexual Abuse
The improper exposure of a child to sexual contact, activity, or behaviour. Child sexual abuse can include exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, sexual touching, and/or penetration.
The age of consent to engage in sexual activity in Canada is 16. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, a person under the age of 12 cannot consent to any kind of sexual activity.
Relationship violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is the abuse of power within a current or past relationship that threatens the security and/or well being of at least one of the people involved. IPV includes controlling behaviours as well as physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse by an intimate partner. IPV can take place within all types of intimate relationships (e.g. dating, long-term partnerships, short-term partnerships, marriage, open-relationships, polyamorous partnerships).
Dispelling Myths of Sexual Violence
Myth: If a woman initiates kissing or "hooking up," she should not be surprised if a guy assumes she wants to have sex.
Fact: If someone agrees to engage in one intimate act, that does not mean they agree to everything. Consent is ongoing and cannot be assumed or implied. It is important to check in with your intimate partner(s) to ensure they are still on board. If they are not, respect their boundaries.
Myth: If it really happened, the survivor would be able to easily recount all the facts in the proper order.
Fact: It is incredibly common for shock, fear, distress, and other manifestations of trauma to impact a person’s memory. Many survivors attempt to minimize or forget the details of the sexual violence as a way of coping.
Myth: If a person doesn’t say “no” or fight back, then they can’t claim sexual assault.
Fact: There are many reasons a person may not resist or say "no" and all are valid. Experiencing an assault often causes the body to freeze up and delay verbal or physical responses. A person may be fearful that if they struggle, the perpetrator will become more violent. Also, if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be physically unable to resist.
Myth: If a guy is drunk he might sexually assault someone unintentionally.
Fact: Intoxication is not an excuse for committing sexual assault. While alcohol may alter one’s decision making process, choosing to touch someone inappropriately without their consent is never excusable.
Myth: A lot of times, women who say they were sexually assaulted agreed to have sex and then regret it.
Fact: False reports of sexual violence only make up between 2% and 8% of all formal sexual violence disclosures in North America. This is less than the average number of false reports for other crimes such as theft. It takes a lot of courage to report an assault as many survivors are aware of the likelihood of being re-victimized throughout the legal process.
Myth: If a woman acts like a "slut," eventually she is going to get into trouble.
Fact: A women’s sexual history is not an indicator for experiencing sexual violence. Sexual assault is a way to express power and control over another person and is never the victim’s fault. Women who are highly sexually active have the right, just like everyone else, to decide when and where they want to be sexually intimate and who they want to be sexually intimate with.
- Consent is golden: do you get it?
- Not My Laurier: Golden Hawks Combatting Gender Violence
- Laurier’s Student Public Interest Research Group on Consent
- When You Know They Are Into It (Short Video, Planned Parenthood)
- When They Are Kinda Into It (Short Video, Planned Parenthood)
- When They’re Just Not Into It (Short Video, Planned Parenthood)
- Eleven Truths Every Survivor of Intimate Partner Violence Needs to Know
- Six Ways to Confront Your Friend Who’s Abusing their Partner
- Healthy Relationship Checklist
- Speak Up and Stay Safe(r): A Guide to Protecting Yourself From Online Harassment
- Heartmob: Report harassment, receive support, and help end online harassment