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What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence of any form targeted toward an individual on the basis of biological sex or gender identity.

This may occur in public or in private through physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or psychological actions or threats of action. While many battle GBV, it disproportionately affects women. Approximately one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

Though GBV is a highly prevalent problem in society, it largely goes unreported as a result of stigma or lack of access to resources.

Gender-based violence is a systemic issue rooted in gender inequality that often oppresses women and other minorities – taking away their power to share their stories and be taken seriously. GBV can impact anyone and have serious physical, mental, emotional, and economic consequences on the person being harmed by it. Some examples include unwanted pregnancies, STI transmission, isolation, depression, or financial ruin.

GBV is a very serious violation of human rights.

Since GBV manifests in many forms, it is important to understand how to recognize gender-based violence.

  • Keep an eye out for any acts of violence that are directly related to the gender of the victim.
  • GBV can manifest as street harassment, marital rape, or intimate partner violence.
  • Gender-based violence is preventable and it is imperative that we as a community come together in promoting gender equality and human rights to build a safer future!

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, abusive behavior used by one partner in a relationship to exert control over another partner. This behavior can include a variety of harmful acts intended to frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound their partner. Domestic violence impacts people in our community of all ethnicities, genders, ages, races, sexual orientations, religions, education levels, and socioeconomic statuses across a wide range of relationships including couples who are married, dating, or living together. This is both a human rights and public health issue as it is a life-threatening crime affecting the physical, emotional and mental well-being of victims.

Types of domestic violence

Many different types of abuse fall under the umbrella term, domestic violence and some may be harder to recognize than others.

  • Physical abuse does not always leave marks or cause permanent damage. It includes any type of physical, violent behavior inflicted on the victim as well as denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone.
    Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, or hair pulling
  • Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser coerces or attempts to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victim’s consent.
    Marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner
  • Emotional abuse involves invalidating or deflating the victim’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem.
    Constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim’s relationship with his/her children or interfering with the victim’s abilities.
  • Economic abuse occurs when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant on them.
    The abuser maintains total control over financial resources, withholds the victim’s access to funds, or prohibits the victim from going to school or work.
  • Psychological abuse involves the abuser invoking fear through intimidation
    Threatening to incur self-harm/harm someone else, destruction of property, injuring the pets, isolating the victim from loved ones, prohibiting the victim from going to school or work, threats to hit, injure, or use a weapon
  • Stalking is a pattern of behavior that invokes fear in a victim when the abuser willfully follows/harasses them. If this behavior occurs virtually, it is known as cyberstalking.
    Following the victim, spying, harassing, sending gifts, collecting information, making phone calls, leaving written messages, or appearing at a person’s home or workplace

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What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence means is an act that involves forcing or manipulating another person into performing unwanted sexual activity without obtaining their consent. This crime can affect women and men of all ages and can be devastating for victims and their families.

What is consent?

Consent is ​​an agreement to participate in sexual activity and it must be freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific. The New Jersey Age of Consent is 16 years old.

According to the State of New Jersey, a victim who is unable to consent is someone:

  1. Under the age of 13
  2. At least 13, but less than 16 years old and the actor is at least four years older than the victims
  3. At least 16, but less than 18 years old and:— The actor is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the third degree

    — The actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim by virtue of the actor’s legal, professional or occupational status

    — The actor is a resource family parent, a guardian, or stands in loco parentis within the household with diminished mental capacity

  4. The victim is one whom the actor knew or should have known was physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or had a mental disease or defect ​which rendered the victim temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding the nature of his conduct, including, but not limited to being incapable of providing consent.  This includes a victim who is drunk, drugged, high, unconscious, or has a developmental disability.

Forms of sexual violence

Sexual violence can be seen in many different forms including:

  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Intimate partner sexual assault
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
  • Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission

What is safety planning?

Safety planning refers to developing a personalized and practical plan of action that can help lower your risk of being hurt by a partner while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Creating a safety plan is an accessible way to manage risk factors, identify safety resources and protect your overall well-being/safety.

Safety plans can include the following steps:

  • Obtaining a new cell phone
  • Changing a routine
  • Changing locks and installing security systems
  • Determining ways to keep children safe
  • Creating a plan for where to go should an incident occur
  • Calling Domestic Violence Crisis Center

Consider these questions when developing your own safety plan:

✔  Are you able to confide in a trusted source — a friend, family member, or neighbor?

✔  Is it possible to avoid areas or locations that make you feel unsafe?

✔  Where in your neighborhood could you go during an emergency?

✔  Is there a list of phone numbers you need to memorize in the event of a crisis?

✔  Do you have children to include in your safety plan?

✔  Do your children know where to go in case they witness violence?

✔  Do you need to have a safety plan in place for work or school?

✔  Is your safety plan stored on a computer or smartphone?

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