What is GBV?

Gender-based violence (GBV) includes physical, sexual, verbal, mental or financial harm inflicted on a person because of power imbalance between men and women in the society. It also includes the threat of violence, coercion and deprivation of liberty, whether in public or private.

In recent years, reports and incidents of GBV have been on the rise, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women who were already disadvantaged, including newcomer, racialized, low-income, non-status, and precariously employed women are at an increased risk of GBV. 

To better understand GBV take a look at the presentation below:

What does GBV look like?

Gender-based violence is enacted under many different circumstances, from its most widespread form, domestic violence or intimate partner violence, to workplace and systemic violence. These different forms are not mutually exclusive. Multiple incidences of GBV can be happening at once and reinforcing each other.


What does domestic or intimate partner violence look like?

Domestic or intimate partner violence is not just physical. It can also be emotional, sexual, psychological, or financial. Violence can include harassment and other types of mistreatment, such as threatening or stalking a person. If your partner does any of the following things, you could be experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence. Your partner might:

  • Not let you have any money or take away control of the family finances
  • Cut off your contact with friends or family, and stop you from making new friends
  • Threaten to…
    • hurt you or your children
    • have you deported from Canada and withhold your documents
    • take your children away from you
    • make false reports against you to the welfare office to cancel your OW/ODSP
    • hurt himself if you do not do what he wants
  • Force you to do things you do not want to do sexually

CLEO (2022), “Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook” p. 2

Safety Planning

Although many people will urge you to “just leave” the intimate relationship, especially if the abuse escalates, you most likely know this is not easy. Aside from risking your safety, you are probably considering the safety of your children if you have them.

It is important to prepare a safety plan if you are experiencing or at risk of experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence. Safety planning involves a person and a trusted helper working together to ensure their safety. 

For details on what a safety plan is take a look at the presentation below:

GBV Crisis Intervention Resources

There are resources available to reduce potential permanent damage to an individual affected by a crisis. If you are experiencing a GBV related crisis, you can contact GBV crisis intervention helplines which are free 24-hour helplines that offer: 

  • Someone to talk to 
  • Crisis counseling 
  • Emotional support
  • Safety planning
  • Legal information 

Typically, hotlines are staffed by trained professionals, and are not intended to replace professional, long-term counseling services.

GBV Crisis Intervention Helplines

Assaulted Women’s Helpline

  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline offers free anonymous and confidential 24-hour telephone and TTY (teletypewriter) crisis line to all women who have experienced any form of abuse.
  • Phone: 1-866-863-0511
  • TTY: 1-866-863-7868

Seniors Safety Line 

  • Seniors Safety Lie is a 24-hour crisis and support line for seniors who have experienced any type of abuse or neglect. Callers receive emotional support, safety planning, information and referrals in over 200 languages.
  • Phone: 1-866-299-1011

Toronto Rape Crisis Centre 

  • Toronto Rape Crisis Centre runs a 24-hour crisis line with trained and experienced peer counselors who are available to speak with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and their supporters.
  • Phone: 416-597-8808

The Redwood 

  • The Redwood provides free and confidential services to help women planning on leaving an abusive situation on the telephone and TTY (teletypewriter) crisis line, which offers services in 170 languages.
  • Phone: 416-533-8583
  • TTY: 416-533-3736


What does workplace GBV look like?

Systemic inequalities can force women, especially newcomer immigrant women, against their will to find work in minimum wage sectors such as in food, manufacturing and retail sectors. Jobs in these sectors have become increasingly unstable and insecure due to below living cost wages, chaotic scheduling and predatory staffing agency practices. These conditions reflect the inherent power imbalance where women are generally over represented in precarious employment. As a direct result of their employment status, women are typically more vulntrable to workplace harassment and discrimination. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that their employment status denies them of access to their rights and entitlements. Workplace GBV can also include bullying, discrimination based on employment status, sexual harrasment, exclusion from employment benefits, threats or termination or reduced hours by employers etc.

How do I address workplace GBV?

Workplace GBV is deep-rooted in the systemic labour market and employment practices and policies. All workers should be educated on these practices and policies to be aware of its inadequacies and participate in initiatives to implement change. 


Toronto & York Region Labour Council

  • The Toronto & York Labour Council is a central labour body that combines the strength of hundreds of local unions representing 220,000 women and men working in every sector of the economy. The council advocactes for has been advocating for social, economic, racial and climate justice in our society.


We also acknowledge that more needs to be done as a society to collectively raise our voices to bring about lasting change around GBV. Here are some ways to get involved in community-based advocacy initiatives in your local neighborhood:

  • Spend time in your community and learn about the different community groups and efforts that already exist 
  • Commit to one small act a day/week that connects to your interests, and values
  • Ensure to vote in the elections 
  • Volunteer with local organizations or participate in mutual aid efforts