This Glossary provides a central place to find the meaning of key terms in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) work and to access resources for further learning. It will grow and change as the GBV field does. If you find a term should be added or revised, please contact us at vawln@uwo.ca

You can view the terms associated with a letter by selecting the letter below. Crossed out letters do not have any terms. You can also click here for a PDF of all the included terms.


Threat Assessment

“Threat Assessment is the practice of determining the credibility and seriousness of a potential threat, as well as the probability that the threat will become a reality. In the context of interpersonal violence, threat assessment involves the formal application of instruments to assess the likelihood that intimate partner violence will be repeated and will escalate. The term is synonymous with the use of instruments specifically developed to identify potentially lethal situations.” [1] In Canada, threat assessment services include “assessing the level of risk an individual poses, providing case management strategies, training, safety planning, expert testimony and facilitating access to certified threat assessors, forensic psychology and external agencies including other mental health, specialized law-enforcement and criminal justice units, and creating new identities for victims of abuse under the Confidential Services for Victims of Abuse Program.” [2]


[1] Domestic Violence Advisory Council. (2009). Transforming Our Communities. Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.  Retrieved from: http://www.women.gov.on.ca/owd/english/ending-violence/dvac_report.shtml

[2] Department of Justice, & Research and Statistics Division. (2018, September 13). Inventory of Spousal Violence Risk Assessment Tools Used in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/rr09_7/p3.html

Toxic Masculinity

Toxic Masculinity refers to a range of characteristics and behaviours associated with narrowly “traditional” expressions of masculinity in Western society (e.g. stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, aggression), particularly when they manifest in harmful ways.  It is worth noting that “toxic masculinity” does not refer to men or masculinity as inherently toxic, but rather to the ill effects of this narrow range of culturally-defined behaviours. [1]

Although the term has gained public attention in recent years, social scientists may instead use concepts such as “traditional masculinity” and “hegemonic masculinity” to address this phenomenon in more neutral terms and/or to situate it within its larger historical and social structural context. [2]

“The etymology and uses of the concept ‘toxic masculinity’ have a mixed history. On the one hand, it was used as an analytical concept to critique strict adherence to masculinised gender norms with the goal of overturning those very same gender norms (Karner, 1996). On the other, it was employed by groups like the Mythopoetic Men's Movement and the Promise Keepers during the 1980s and 1990s (Messner, 1998) in appeals to reject ‘hypermasculine’ and ‘warrior’ masculinity, which was seen as detrimental to the spiritual life of the family (Ferber, 2000, p. 36)… Yet, rather than seeking transformation, [these groups] adopted strongly antifeminist politics and overtly reactionary notions of a return [to] gender roles through promoting a vision of the ‘benevolent patriarch’ as the (nuclear) family's economic and spiritual provider.” [2]

Given the variety of meanings associated with the term (i.e. due to the subjective nature of the term “toxicity”), and its tendency to focus on “decontextualized, interpersonal acts,” rather than systemic problems, the term is best used with caution. [2] 

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[1] American Psychological Association. 2018. Harmful masculinity and violence: Understanding the connection and approaches to prevention. In the Public Interest Newsletter.  Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pi/about/newsletter/2018/09/harmful-masculinity

[2] de Boise, S. 2019. Editorial: Is masculinity toxic? Norma: International Journal for Masculinity Studies. 14, 3, 147-151. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/18902138.2019.1654742

Transitional Housing

“Transitional housing refers to a supportive – yet temporary – type of accommodation that is meant to bridge the gap from homelessness to permanent housing by offering structure, supervision, support (for addictions and mental health, for instance), life skills, and in some cases, education and training.” [1] “Transitional housing is conceptualized as an intermediate step between emergency crisis shelter and permanent housing. It is more long-term, service-intensive and private than emergency shelters, yet remains time-limited to stays of three months to three years. It is meant to provide a safe, supportive environment where residents can overcome trauma, begin to address the issues that led to homelessness or kept them homeless, and begin to rebuild their support network.” [2]

Learn More:


 [1] Homeless Hub. (2013). Transitional housing. Retrieved from https://www.homelesshub.ca/solutions/housing-accommodation-and-supports/transitional-housing

[2] Government of Ontario. (2016). Legislative framework for transitional housing. Retrieved from http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=15806


“Negative attitudes and feelings and the aversion to, fear or hatred or intolerance of trans people and communities. Like other prejudices, it is based on stereotypes and misconceptions that are used to justify discrimination, harassment and violence toward trans people, or those perceived to be trans.” [1] 


[1] The 519. (n.d.). Glossary of terms. Retrieved from http://www.the519.org/education-training/glossary

Trauma (Traumatic Stress)

“Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event. Experiencing a traumatic event can harm a person’s sense of safety, sense of shelf, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships. A traumatic event can be: a recent single traumatic event (e.g. car crash, violent assault), a single traumatic event that occurred in the past (e.g. a sexual assault, the death of a spouse or child), an accident living through a natural disaster or war, a long-term chronic pattern (e.g. ongoing childhood neglect, sexual or physical abuse).” [1]

“Traumatic stress results from traumatic events that are shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threaten death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity.” [2] 

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[1] Canadian Association of Mental Health. (n.d.). Trauma. Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/trauma

[2] International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. (2020). What is Traumatic Stress? Retrieved from https://istss.org/public-resources/what-is-traumatic-stress#:~:text=Traumatic%20events%20are%20shocking%20and,or%20threat%20to%20physical%20integrity.

Trauma- and Violence-Informed Approaches

[Also known as: Trauma- and violence-informed care.] Trauma- and violence-informed (TVI) approaches “(expand) the concept of trauma-informed care to emphasize the intersecting impacts of systemic and interpersonal violence and structural inequities on a person’s life. This shift acknowledges both historical and ongoing interpersonal violence and their traumatic impacts and helps to emphasize a person’s experiences of past and current violence so that problems are not seen as residing only in their psychological state but also in social circumstances.” [1]

The specification of violence in TVI approaches therefore draws direct attention to the broader structural and social conditions, as well as forms of ongoing and/or “institutional violence,” and the need for service providers to conduct their work in full recognition of these contexts. [1]

Learn More:


[1] Government of Canada. (2018, February). Trauma and violence-informed approaches to policy and practice. Retrieved from https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/event-presentations/grand-rounds-april-9-2019.pdf?la=en


Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is “an injury which disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. The result of such disruption may include changes in physical, cognitive and/or emotional wellbeing.”[1] It is one of the leading causes of long-term disability. [2]

TBI can be the result of violence including being hit in the head (e.g. punched, shoved into a wall or floor, hit by an object), arduous shaking, and non-fatal strangulation. [3] The lingering symptoms of TBI (e.g. headache, sleeping problems, irritability, memory problems) are also referred to as post-concussive syndrome.

Head injuries and/or probable TBI are prevalent in women experiencing violence, including Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). [4]

Learn More:


[1] Hunnicutt, G., Murray, C., Lundgren, K., Crowe, A., & Olson, L. (2019). Exploring correlates of probable traumatic brain injury among intimate partner violence survivors. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 1-18. doi:10.1080/10926771.2019.1587656

[2] Goldin, Y., PhD, Haag, Halina L., MSW, RSW, & Trott, C. T., PhD. (2016). Screening for history of traumatic brain injury among women exposed to intimate partner violence. Pm&r, 8(11), 1104-1110. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2016.05.006

[3] Brown, J. (2018). Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and domestic violence: A beginner's guide for professionals. Journal of Forensic Sciences & Criminal Investigation, 8(2) doi:10.19080/JFSCI.2018.08.555735

[4] Gagnon, K. L., & DePrince, A. P. (2017). Head injury screening and intimate partner violence: A brief report. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 18(4), 635-644. doi:10.1080/15299732.2016.1252001; Farley, M., Banks, M. E., Ackerman, R. J., Golding, J. M., Backans, D., University of California-San Francisco, & Prostitution Research and Education. (2018). Screening for traumatic brain injury in prostituted women. Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence, 3(2) doi:10.23860/dignity.2018.03.02.05; Campbell, J. C., Anderson, J. C., McFadgion, A., Gill, J., Zink, E., Patch, M., . . . Campbell, D. (2018). The effects of intimate partner violence and probable traumatic brain injury on central nervous system symptoms. Journal of Women's Health, 27(6), 761-767. doi:10.1089/jwh.2016.6311


“Two-spirit means different things to different people and different communities. One of the most commonly cited understandings of the term is a person who possesses both masculine and feminine spirits; however, two-spirit is used throughout English-speaking communities on Turtle Island to distinguish the wide variety of Indigenous concepts of gender and sexual diversity as separate from the European gender binary, which was violently imposed on Indigenous communities through Christianization and the residential school system. Within Indigenous cosmologies, gender and sexual diversity are viewed holistically, with people of many genders and sexualities holding important roles in families and communities. For some people two-spirit is a gender identity, while others use it to describe their sexual orientation, and still others as a spiritual identity (and some a combination of these elements). Although two-spirit is sometimes used as an umbrella term for LGBTQ Indigenous people, it is important to note that not every Indigenous person who identifies as LGBTQ will identify as twospirit, and not everyone who identifies as two-spirit will identify as LGBTQ. Some people use the term two-spirit in order to distance themselves from colonial society. Others may identify with a nation-specific term, as many Indigenous languages have words for the gender diversity traditionally found in their communities.” [1]


[1] Rainbow Health Ontario. (2016, July). Two-Spirit and LGBTQ Indigenous health. Retrieved from https://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2SLGBTQINDIGENOUSHEALTHFactHeet.pdf


This initialism stands for “Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual.” [1]

It may also appear as LGBTQ2SIA, or in shortened versions such as LGBTQ2S or LGBT+.

Learn More:


[1] Buller, M., Audette, M., Eyolfson, B., & Robinson, Q. (2019). 2SLGBTQQIA Pride Month. National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Retrieved from https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Pride-Month-ENG.pdf