Useful terms: what do they mean?

Good Friend: Anyone who behaves in a non-judgemental way and listens to someone regardless of their sex, gender and choices.

Women’s Refuge: A place where women who experience violence and abuse are welcomed and given refuge. They are listened to and protected so that they can recognise and understand the violence that they have experienced. A women’s refuge aims to create a space where women can realise their aspirations and potential away from heavy societal pressures. It helps women to start on the path to escaping violence and abuse.

Safe Space: A place where anybody can relax and freely be themselves without running the risk of feeling uncomfortable, judged or insecure. It is safe for everybody regardless of their heritage, nationality, social class, gender identity, sexual orientation, cultural background, religious belief, age and mental or physical condition.

Spiral of violence: All the ways in which a person can undermine their partner, making them feel weak, helpless and dependant on them. There are seven stages in this cyclical process: intimidation, isolation, devaluation, segregation, physical and sexual aggression, using children as blackmail. These stages may happen in different orders and at different speeds. There may often be periods of relative calm between each stage, aiming to weaken the survivors and further isolate her. You will find more information about this at the end of this guide.

Gender-based violence: Violence by men against women is characterised by a series of physical and sexual actions and by economic and psychological coercion. It is generated by a man’s desire of domination and control over women. It can be short or long term, and can extend to physical, psychological, emotional, existential and material damage. Violence cannot be associated exclusively with certain social, economic, cultural, national or religious conditions, but is a phenomenon that cuts across society. It may occur and be cultivated in a variety of environments. Gender-based violence often entails the abuse of the woman’s trust, in environments such as a romantic/intimate relationship or in the workplace.

Same-sex violence: Violence occurring within a relationship between two men or two women. This sort of violence is often ‘invisible’ due to society’s reluctance to accept relationships and love which are not heterosexual and monogamous. In addition, the need to continually defend one’s relationships from bigotry, homophobia, lesbophobia, transphobia and sexism further restricts one’s ability to speak openly about intimate partner violence, due to fear of being attacked once again for one’s sexual orientation and choices. The spiral of violence is a process which is internalised through systems of power and occurs regardless of gender. Those suffering the effects of violence do so despite their sexuality. An individual who faces violence in a lesbian relationship undergoes violence threefold: in the relationship itself; in a lesbophobic and a sexist culture that both desires and rejects her; and through societal refusal to recognise the existence of violence in a relationship between women. It is everyone’s responsibility to recognise that same-sex violence exists and to fight against it!

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