Call them guiding principles, call them our philosophy—anyway you shake it, we keep these statements in mind with everything we do.
- Violence and abuse are not acceptable forms of behaviour.
- Women and children must have the right to live free of violence and abuse, and the threat of violence.
- Women must have the right to protect themselves and their children from violence and abuse.
Women must have the right to self-determination. This includes the right to make choices about their bodies and choices about bearing children.
- Women must have the right to define what “family” is for them.
- Violence/abuse against women can only be analyzed on a political and social level in which women experience a specific oppression related to social, political and economic factors.
- The issue of violence against women is not an isolated phenomenon, it is a social phenomenon where men are encouraged to take a dominant role, which can lead to abusive and violent behaviour.
- Violence is a learned behaviour supported by social structures. Violent/abusive men must be held responsible for their violent/abusive acts.
- Women who experience violence do so not as a result of their own pathology, but rather as the result of the internalization of the values of a hierarchical, oppressive society, which has historically assigned women a subordinate position.
- Some women, in addition to gender, face additional barriers to full equality as a result of multiple oppressions related to class, racialization, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, disability, because they’re indigenous women or because of other status.
- Violence in lesbian relationships is part of the continuum of violence against women. Like everyone else, lesbians have grown up in a society that condones violence and that views violence and coercion as effective ways of gaining power and control over others. Just as fear and hatred of women (misogyny) is at the root of violence in heterosexual relationships, internalized sexism, institutionalized and internalized homophobia and heterosexism are central to abuse in lesbian relationships.
- All forms of oppression are interconnected.
- Racism and other forms of oppression are learned, and unlearning oppressions is a life-long struggle. As feminists committed to the elimination of violence against women, we must also be committed to the elimination of all forms of oppression.
- We are all capable of committing acts of violence and abuse and violence and abuse must always be considered in the context of power and control. Women who are experiencing the impact of violence committed against them must not be seen as abusers if their acts of violence are committed in an effort to protect themselves or their children, or in a struggle to regain control over their lives.
- Women who commit violent or abusive acts in an effort to exercise power and control over others must be held accountable for their behaviour.
- The strength of our analysis comes from our diversity and emphasizes recognizing and confronting violence, racism and all forms of oppression at the personal, communal and institutional levels. We must bring this analysis to all aspects of our interaction with the women who seek our services, each other, the community, and ourselves.