Oppression occurs when some people are undervalued and mistreated on the basis of their membership within a particular social group. Undervalued groups are marginalized and disadvantaged because they have less opportunities and resources than overvalued groups, who hold positions of power and privilege. Oppression is everywhere and plays out at multiple levels – personal, cultural, and institutional. It is not merely an ideology or set of beliefs (prejudices), nor is it random or isolated acts of discrimination or harassment – it is a system of domination with many interlocking parts.. Established laws, customs and practices systemically reflect and reinforce this social inequality.

We believe an anti-oppression framework is important when addressing domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or human trafficking. Anti-oppression is grounded in challenging power imbalances and recognizing the interconnectedness of different systems of oppression (racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, gender oppression, transphobia, etc). These systems exemplify the use of violence and coercion for social control – all are based on the premise that it is acceptable for one group of people to dominate another group of people, and therefore give abusers a framework with which to maintain power and control.