Intersectional approaches to gender-based violence work is critical to conducting thorough and informed work in this area. Intersectionality is a “perspective [that] recognizes the unique experiences of women and the differences within communities, and explains how multiple forces work together and interact to reinforce conditions of inequality and social exclusion, often the roots of violence.”
Refers to the ways in which gender intersects with other identities such as: race, age, ethnicity, health, and other characteristics. Intersectionality is the sociological theory on how these intersections contribute to unique experiences of oppression and privilege.
(Symington, A. (2004). Intersectionality: a tool for gender and economic justice.)
Applying trauma-informed approaches
Gender based violence can cause trauma that impacts the survivor. These impacts may not always be visible. Adopting a trauma-informed approach is critical to supporting a survivor of violence, and making change in this area. This requires understanding the impacts that gender-based violence and trauma have on survivors, and responding to a disclosure or issue in this area a way that promotes empowerment and minimizes re-traumatization.
Trauma Informed Approaches
A framework that is responsive to the impact of trauma, emphasising physical, mental, and emotional safety for both service providers and survivors. It creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
These are some basic principles to adopt in order to apply a trauma-informed approach to this work:
- Acknowledge the impact of trauma;
- Empower the individual/community;
- Maximize choice related to disclosing, reporting, and accessing support;
- Restore control to the individual/community;
- Recognize the individual/community’s need for (and right to) safety;
- Build upon the individual/community’s strengths;
- Consistently treat the individual/community with respect;
- Move at the pace of the individual/community;
- Always respect the individual/community’s right to privacy.
Applying these principles can increase the well-being, comfort and recovery of survivors of gender based violence, and are also integral to apply when conducting advocacy and community work in this area.
Create Survivor-Centric Responses
Prioritizing the rights, needs, and wishes of the survivor; in the engagement of violence against women programming. Application of the human rights-based approach.
It is important to adopt survivor-centric approaches when working in the field of gender-based violence, individuals survivors, communities, or advocacy work. These approaches are rooted in the lived experiences of survivors, rather than allowing the rights and concerns of perpetrators to dominate the conversation, or even the needs of the institutions to take priority. Through grounding work on survivors’ perspectives and experiences, conversations and work will be framed in a way that is empowering and allows women to reclaim space.
So, what does all of this mean?
The consequences of experiencing gender-based violence can leave lasting consequences on survivors. Gender based violence can affect:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Sexual and reproductive health
- Financial stability
These impacts are often felt more greatly by marginalized populations, including LGBTQQ2S+ people, Indigenous women and girls, sex workers, and persons with disabilities.
Further to this, experiences of violence during an individual’s childhood may cause them to be at greater risk of victimization later in life. Violence is proven to affect multiple generations and can trigger cycles of violence within both families and communities.