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Gender Violence: Identity-Based Info

Identity-Based Info

Survivors of gender-based violence who are members of marginalized groups have special concerns and experience particular challenges. Other forms of discrimination, such as racism, homophobia, and/or ageism can complicate a survivor’s access to the resources they need. Navigate the "for survivors who are ___" list that we have provided below to find information that is specific to facets of your identity (or the identity of a friend or family member that you are supporting). 

All of these factors, in addition to the unique aspects of a survivor’s own history, may influence their response to an assault because sexuality covers a complex set of behaviors, ideas and feelings that vary among different cultures and identities. This variation can be a source of confusion, misunderstanding and conflict. Cultural values relating to behavioral norms by sex or gender, such as assertiveness, aggression and violence are also areas of potential confusion and conflict. 

In reviewing initial information provided for survivors more generally, you may notice that these issues are not directly addressed. However, advocates and providers of services for survivors in many settings will be familiar with these challenges and able to help with a wide variety of concerns. Organizations listed in our Resources section include several working at UVA and in Charlottesville, as well as state and national resources, that can help address survivors' identity-based concerns.

Understanding How Intersectionality Impacts Survivors

The meeting of identit(ies) and structural oppression is called “intersectionality,” a term first coined by African-American feminist, Kimberlé Crenshaw, in her essay, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics” (1989). As a concept, it arose from black women’s critiques of the feminist movement and its tendency to ignore the ways in which race came with its own set of oppressions that interacted with gendered ones.

Today, intersectionality can broadly be thought of as describing the way social identities or groups impact individuals’ experiences of discrimination and systems of oppression. In the context of gender-based violence, various identities shape the way that someone experiences violence, the ways they respond to it, and the various barriers and challenges they face when trying to address it.

Thinking in intersectional ways helps to understand how varied the experience of gender-based violence can be, and how it might fit into the experiences of an individual’s life. Survivors need support to negotiate challenges that are specific to their cultural norms and values. Some reactions are common to many survivors, but only to a point. Each person has their own personal history, culture, values, ethnicities, gender or sexual identities, faith (or non-faith), spirituality, health (physical and mental), and more. All of these are already written on someone’s life page when they experience violence.

For Survivors Who Are: