Gender-based violence is and has been throughout history a major social problem and scourge, which has taken many lives and ruined many others.

The fight against this reality has only recently acquired social relevance, although different voices have been expressing the suffering of those who suffer ill-treatment, the indignation and the need to confront this type of act.

Some of these voices, some known and some anonymous, have reflected powerful messages. Among them we find great phrases against gender-based violence .

80 sentences against gender-based violence

Throughout this article we will see phrases against inequality and gender violence. Some of them are from known authors and others are anonymous or part of various advertising campaigns.

Likewise, some start from statements or works that do not directly deal with this topic, but which can nevertheless be applied or some type of relationship with gender violence can be found.

1. Enough with the minutes of fear, humiliation, pain, silence. We have the right to have every minute be one of freedom, of happiness, of love, of life. (No One Less Campaign)

These phrases express the will to live and a woman’s right to be free and happy, to live without fear.

2. We want each other alive. All of us. Not one less. (Campaign Not One Less)

Many women die every day to less than their partners or ex-partners just because they are. That is why phrases like this make us see the need to combat gender violence.

3. In the face of atrocities we have to take sides. Silence stimulates the executioner (Elie Wiesel)

Not acting is not an option in the face of gender-based violence, since it encourages the perpetrator of the aggression to continue inflicting the abuse.

4. Any time of the day or night is good for saying enough and ending a stage of your life that you would have liked not to live (Raimunda de Peñafort)

The renowned judge and writer Raimunda de Peñafort expressed to us in this sentence the need to appear at the moment when the victim decides that it is necessary to change and end his torment.

5. No saints or whores. We are only women (Rotmi Enciso)

Sometimes raised as a phrase in various manifestations against gender violence and in favour of equality, this phrase expresses the need to consider women as human beings equal to men : an existence worthy of respect and that does not have to be either virtuous and virginal or passionate and sexual, nor sheltered as if she were something fragile and incapable or used as an object.

6. No man is good enough to rule any woman without her consent (Susan Anthony)

There is no one who has the right to choose and master our life beyond ourselves.

7. This irrational desire for dominance, control and power over the other person is the main force that fuels domestic violence between couples (Luis Rojas Marcos)

As this well-known Spanish psychiatrist indicates, what ultimately generates abuse is the desire for power over others, often using traditional gender roles.

8. To wall up one’s own suffering is to risk being devoured from within (Frida Kahlo)

Although the phrase in question does not refer to abuse, it does express a reality that is very common among people who suffer it: to hide and bury the suffering deep down , something that makes it difficult to make the decision to say enough.

9. All violence is the result of people fooling themselves into believing that their pain is caused by other people, thus thinking that they deserve to be punished (Marshall Rosenberg)

This phrase is quite self-explanatory, and leads us to think that one of the motivators (although not the only one) of the aggression is the abuser’s self-loathing and feeling of little competition.

10. Break the silence. When you witness violence against women, don’t just stand by. Take Action (Ban Ki Moon)

This phrase from the diplomat and former United Nations Secretary-General expresses the need for witnesses and those who perceive abuse to not simply ignore it, but to help the victims and report the acts of violence.

11. Women’s fear of men’s violence is a mirror of men’s fear of women without fear (Eduardo Galeano)

Many cases of GBV start from the aggressor’s need to maintain power and control over the other, using aggression as a method of trying to suppress the victim’s own power to live freely.

12. We had two choices: to be quiet and die or to talk and die. We decided to talk (Malala Yousafzai)

This phrase refers to the reality of many women who are subjected and bound to suffering, pain and even death because of the fear that rebelling will bring them even more pain.

13. No is no!

Gender-based violence is exercised in many ways, one of which is sexual violence: sexual abuse or rape are the best known examples. Those who perpetrate this type of violence often ignore their victim’s denials , trivialise them and even insinuate that the victim really wanted to have sex. That is why it is very important to take into account a message, in principle as simple as it is obvious, as the one expressed by this sentence.

14. No woman can call herself free when she does not have control over her own body (Margaret Sanger)

Many women are forced by their partners to have sex even though they do not want it or to cause them pain and suffering, something that is often hidden or not even considered sexual assault by the person himself because of the thought that the person doing it is his spouse or partner.

18. I have seen men suffering psychologically unable to ask for help for fear that they will not be considered “macho”. I resent the idea that men can’t cry (Emma Watson)

The young actress expresses in this sentence the fact that although in a much smaller proportion also some men suffer violence from their partners and do not usually report for fear of social rejection.

19. A man’s violence against his partner is invisible except when it is denounced; invisible to all except the children who risk perpetuating it, they as abusers, they as submissive victims (Jacobo Durán)

Gender-based violence does not only affect the person who is directly abused. If there are children, they will be secondary victims or sometimes even instruments for perpetrating violence against the spouse. They are also exposed to a parental model that they may be able to replicate in the future. It is also for them that it is necessary to fight to get out of the situation of violence.

20. Defend your life, fight for your independence, seek your happiness and learn to love yourself (Izaskun González)

A phrase directed at all people who are subjected to gender-based violence, and which seeks to awaken them and make them seek to get out of their situation.

21. Where someone is fighting for his dignity, for equality, for freedom… look him in the eye (Bruce Springsteen)

Being abused and living in subjection generates great suffering and pain, and breaking up with one’s partner or resolving that we need to change is often a great difficulty. That is why we must recognize and validate the efforts and courage of those who struggle to achieve this.

22. Violence is not just killing each other. There is violence when you use an aggressive word, when you make a gesture of contempt for a person, when you obey because you are afraid (Jiddu Kirshnamurti)

Although the original phrase encompasses other types of violence, this phrase clearly applies to GBV. This is not just physical violence or death: insults, humiliation, coercion and threats are just some of the other types of violence it includes.

  • You may be interested in: “The 11 types of violence (and the different kinds of aggression)”

23. Violence is the last resort of the incompetent (Isaac Asimov)

A phrase also used to condemn gender-based violence clearly states that violence is the result of a lack of capacity to manage one’s relationship with the other.

24. Labelling gender-based violence as a women’s issue is part of the problem. It gives a huge number of men the perfect excuse for not paying attention (Jackson Katz)

Despite the fact that there is a growing awareness at the social level, the truth is that on many occasions it has been observed that there is a tendency to consider the fight against gender violence as something that belongs to the female gender. However, it is up to all of us to put an end to this scourge.

25. Today, as in the past, women must refuse to be submissive and credulous, for dissimulation cannot serve the truth (Germaine Greer)

The absolute submission that tradition imposed on women with respect to men has often been used as an excuse for the exercise of violence, and this submission must be changed in order to guarantee freedom and avoid and prevent abusive relationships .

26. Every 15 seconds a woman is assaulted in the world, every 15 seconds a man stops being assaulted (Jorge Moreno Pieiga)

Gender-based violence is a problem that unfortunately continues to occur on a daily basis, and we must strive to combat it.

27. There is no barrier, lock, or bolt you can impose on the freedom of my mind (Virginia Woolf)

The famous writer leaves us a sentence in which she expresses that our mind is and must be free , and that we have to fight to break down the impositions that are placed upon it. She urges us to be strong and to fight violence in order to recover our freedom.

28. To be free is not just to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that enhances and respects the freedom of others (Nelson Mandela)

This phrase pushes us to seek to improve the situation of those around us, which includes helping to combat violence against them.

29. Beating a woman is not cultural, it is a crime, and it should be directed and treated as such (Hillary Clinton)

Sometimes some aggressors and even some victims justify the violence as “normal”, considering that their acts are not negative because they have been allowed in the past. But the fact that in ancient times abuse was not so persecuted does not imply anything: an abuse will never cease to be one, and must be treated and fought as such.

30. Mentor and teach young men about how to be men in ways that do not degrade or abuse girls and women (Jackson Katz)

Jackson Katz is a well-known writer, filmmaker and educator who has created several gender-based violence prevention programmes. One of the points that this author highlights is that one of the pillars to prevent possible situations of violence is an education free of gender stereotypes that place women subordinate to men or as sexual objects.

31. When they tried to shut me up, I shouted (Teresa Wilms)

It is important to keep in mind that sometimes people who suffer some type of gender-based violence are not heard, are vilified and even held responsible for what happened . But just because someone does not listen to us does not mean that we do not have to keep fighting to live free.

32. I don’t want to feel brave when I go out on the street. I want to feel free

Many people, especially women, say that simply going out alone on the streets generates a certain fear and insecurity in the face of the high prevalence of sexist attitudes and even sexual harassment (and in some cases abuse and aggression). This causes them great anguish and tension. No one wants to live in fear.

33. It is very common for women to think that enduring abuse and cruelty and then forgiving and forgetting is a sign of commitment and love. But when we love well we know that the only healthy and loving response to abuse is to walk away from the one who is hurting us (Bell Hooks)

Many victims decide to give the abuser another chance, with a somewhat distorted idea that the forgiveness of such acts or the repentance that many abusers show after the act of abuse is a sign of their love. But allowing and forgiving such acts over and over again only leads to the repetition of a pattern on an ongoing basis, with nothing changing, causing the violence against them to be perpetuated.

34. I will not be a free woman as long as there are still submissive women (Audre Lorde)

This phrase pushes us to fight against gender violence even if we are not experiencing it ourselves, helping to eliminate this scourge from our society.

35. Don’t whistle at me, I’m not a dog

When we talk about GBV we are not just talking about beatings, rapes or insults. Vexatious and objectionable attitudes can also be considered as such . We must always respect the dignity of others.

36. Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women fear that men will kill them (Margaret Atwood)

A brutal sentence that basically reflects the situation of many victims of gender-based violence: while the abuser fears loss of power and humiliation, the victim fears death, loneliness or even uselessness.

37. You are not alone

Victims of gender-based violence often feel a great sense of inner emptiness and loneliness, partly because of the distance from the rest of the environment to which the aggressor usually subjects them and partly because they do not dare to accept and tell anyone about their situation. However, and as can be seen in the different marches and demonstrations, the abused person is not alone but has the support of thousands of people , some of whom have gone through the same situation.

38. And it all began the day he made me believe that his jealousy was love…(Laura Iglesia San Martín)

Often abusers use violence when they believe they can lose power over the victim or to ensure dominance. They may also often try to justify their attitudes and jealousy as a sign of love, even though it is not such but mere possessiveness and insecurity. Sometimes some aggressors and even some victims justify the violence as “normal”, considering that their acts are not negative because they have been allowed in the past.
But the fact that in ancient times abuse was not so persecuted does not imply anything: an abuse will never cease to be one, and must be treated and fought as such.

Mentor and teach young men about how to be men in ways that do not degrade or abuse girls and women (Jackson Katz)

Jackson Katz is a well-known writer, filmmaker and educator who has created several gender-based violence prevention programmes. One of the points that this author highlights is that one of the pillars to prevent possible situations of violence is an education free of gender stereotypes that place women subordinate to men or as sexual objects.

In love and relationships , an essential part is the perception by both parties of an equality in the rights and capacities of each one, being both equivalent although different and not existing relations of superiority and inferiority.

41. It is not the two sexes that are inferior or superior to each other. They are simply different (Gregorio Marañón)

This sentence indicates that although there are differences between the two sexes, this does not imply that one is superior to the other.

42. I am not accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept (Angela Davis)

A phrase that pushes us to break down barriers and stereotypes in order to change things and prevent cases of gender-based violence from happening, without giving up or considering that such violence is impossible to change.

43. Woman, watch out for verbal abuse, do not let them throw you in the face, words like useless, self-conscious, trash, ignorant, ridiculous, etc… these attributes hide a clear violence that will soon manifest itself (Antón García Abril)

This phrase expresses how often the first step in the emergence of GBV is the making of derogatory comments that put the victim in an inferior position to her attacker.

44. There’s no reason for a scream. The one who can do it the most never wins. Speak, you are not an animal (José de Eusebio)

The composer and musician José de Eusebio makes us see in this phrase the need to respect the dignity of others, in a clear allusion to the verbal and psychological abuse to which many people are subjected regardless of whether or not there is physical aggression involved.

45. Love never strikes (Laura Iglesia San Martín)

A simple phrase but with a great message: violence will never be a sign of love.

46. Calling women the weaker sex is slander: it is the injustice of men to women (Mahatma Gandhi)

The consideration of women as inferior human beings and subordinate to men is one of the cultural elements that have facilitated the emergence of attitudes that can lead to gender-based violence.

47. The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans, just as blacks were not made for whites, or women for men (Alice Walker)

Men and women are independent human beings, who do not necessarily need the presence of the other to survive and whose lives are not subordinated to the will of the other.

48. Sometimes you have to forget what you feel and remember what you deserve (Frida Kahlo)

Feelings towards the aggressor often make it difficult for the victim of GBV to seek help or decide to continually forgive him. However, these feelings clash with reality: the person they love is making them suffer. We all need to remember what we deserve as human beings: to be free and to seek our own happiness.

49. With the blindfold I made a bow in my hair. Now I am prettier and less blind (Sara Buho)

This phrase expresses the need to take off the blindfold and accept the fact that what the person who is hurting us is mistreating us. That moment when the victim realizes it is the one that allows him or her to seek help and fight for a better life free of violence.

50. Each woman who is damaged, attacked, or killed is the mute and defenseless testimony of the worst that the human being contains: of the triumph of brute force, blind, savage, and sick, over any feeling, over any thought, over everything that makes us worthy. Let us shout enough (David del Puerto)

These phrases reflect that gender-based violence is, at its core, a failure of humanity to develop from a society in which we all have equal rights and can be respected, and to manage our own brutality.

51. One never enters by violence into a heart (Jean Baptiste Molière)

Again, a sign that those who use violence against us do not want us. It is necessary to understand this fact in order to be able to fight it.

52. If he mistreats you and you do nothing, you are letting him do it (Montserrat Delgado)

This sentence is not making the person who has been attacked responsible for his or her situation, but it does reflect that it is up to the victim himself or herself to find a solution.

53. I encourage men and boys everywhere to join us. Gender-based violence will not be eradicated until all of us refuse to tolerate it. (Ban Ki-Moon)

Again, the former United Nations Secretary General calls not only on women but also on men to eliminate gender-based violence from our societies.

54. Never offer your heart to someone who eats hearts, someone who believes that the flesh of the heart is delicious and not rare, someone who sucks up liquids drop by drop and, with a bloody chin, smiles at you (Alice Walker)

This unpleasant and brutal phrase does not cease to express the need not to surrender to a relationship in which one’s own pain and suffering and the fact of keeping the person controlled and dominated is for the other reason of pleasure and satisfaction .

55. Racial, gender, sexual and other forms of discrimination and violence cannot be eliminated without changing the culture (Charlotte Bunch)

In order for gender-based violence to disappear and be prevented, it is necessary to act not only in cases where it occurs but also socially and communally: the population must be educated in equality and mutual respect.

56. Equality is a vital need of the human soul. The same amount of respect and attention is due to every human being, because respect has no degrees (Simone Weil)

We are all equally worthy and admirable regardless of our gender, sex, skin color, sexual orientation, race or beliefs.

57. One in three women may suffer abuse or violence during her lifetime. This is an abominable violation of human rights, but it remains one of the most invisible and little-known pandemics of our time (Nicole Kidman)

Although there are more and more cases of reporting and greater awareness , the truth is that gender-based violence continues to be an issue that those who suffer it (and those who practice it) often hide for a long time. It is often an invisible problem until it becomes extremely evident, and sometimes not even seen as such by the victims.

58. The gender is between the ears and not between the legs (Chaz Bono)

This phrase helps us to see that men and women are equally capable of living our lives, with gender being something that does not depend on the sexual apparatus we have.

59. My body is mine!

Women have often been objectified as sexual objects, and in many cases of gender-based violence, the perpetrator considered it his or her right to dispose of the victim’s body for his or her own sexual satisfaction regardless of the will of the other. No one has the right to dispose of another person’s body, mind or sexuality without their consent.

60. You may break my hand, but never my voice

A voice that encourages us to fight, to fight to change things and to eradicate violence from our lives.

61. Our men believe that making money and giving orders are the basis of power. They do not believe that power is in the hands of a woman who takes care of everyone during the day and gives birth (Malala Yousafzai)

This young activist expresses with her sentence the need to value and not underestimate the importance of women regardless of their social or work situation .

62. On the other side of the emergency phone there is not only the end of the abuse, there is the life you have stopped living

As this sentence from an awareness campaign tells us, asking for help is a fundamental step to get out of an abusive situation and start living again.

63. Don’t skip the signs. Choose to live (Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality)

This phrase comes from an awareness campaign broadcast on television in Spain, and expresses the need for the victim or the environment to become aware of the different signs (isolation, humiliation, comparisons, telephone control, economic control, use of children and the environment to harm them, insults, blows…) that a case of gender-based violence is taking place.

64. Women are the only exploited group in history that has been idealized into powerlessness (Erica Jong)

In this case, we are talking about a type of gender violence that does not include the couple but society: the tendency to think of women as weak, fragile and incapable creatures who are prejudiced, used and undervalued.

65. You think if he doesn’t love you then you’re worthless. You think that if he no longer loves you he is right, you think his opinion of you must be right. You think that if he throws you away it’s because you’re trash. You think he belongs to you because you feel you belong to him. No. “Belong” is a bad word, especially when you use it with someone you love. Love shouldn’t be like that (Toni Morrison)

Again, in this sentence we see how victims of gender-based violence tend to have a very low opinion of themselves , an opinion that the aggressor himself usually generates and reinforces in order to keep it under his control.

This makes them think that they need the aggressor and that they owe it to him/her, that in fact they are lucky that this person is with them (a belief that is often also made explicit by the aggressor himself/herself) or else they will be left alone and will not be able to be happy. These thoughts must be combated.

66. Gender violence is born from the darkest part of the human being and must not be hidden, suffered or covered up. We must shout with courage and energy: Enough! (Zulema de la Cruz)

This pianist and composer shows us with her phrase the need to exteriorize, face and fight against gender violence.

67. If you are held back, insulted, attacked, beaten or threatened, don’t be confused. That is not love.

Acts such as those mentioned above will never be a gesture of love, no matter how much they try to disguise it as such.

68. My silence didn’t protect me. Your silence will not protect you (Audre Lorde)

This phrase is intended to push the person suffering from gender-based violence to denounce their situation, to fight to change it. Keeping quiet will not make the problem go away, it will only prolong it.

69. Against gender-based violence, zero tolerance

An advertising campaign slogan to raise awareness expresses the need to take into account the seriousness of the situation from the outset and not to tolerate any kind of violent situation or action.

70. Why shut up if I was born screaming? (Faculty of Education of the University Campus of Soria)

This phrase expresses the need to make our voice heard against gender violence, to express the suffering and pain of those who suffer it and to express our repulsion for this type of aggression.

71. No one asked me how my attacker was dressed

Often many victims of sexual abuse and aggression are questioned and blamed for the situation to the point of questioning even how they were dressed at the time, so that it seems to imply that the aggression is their fault or responsibility. This generates a great deal of harm in the victim, who may not report or even believe that she is really responsible for what happened.

72. In any relationship you have, you don’t deserve someone who doesn’t love you, and even less someone who hurts you (Walter Riso)

As in previous sentences, this author refers to the fact that those who hurt us do not deserve us, something that should undoubtedly lead us to distance ourselves from the aggressor.

73. No hurting blows or words that hurt

This sentence exemplifies two of the most common ones: the use of aggression and humiliation as a method of subduing the victim of gender-based violence.

74. We are the cry of the voiceless

The demonstrations and marches that are organized allow to reflect at social level a reality that in the day-to-day life most people do not usually take much into account and that nevertheless takes the life of thousands of people every year.

75. Violence is not a force. It is the abuse of force (Michel Lancelot)

This phrase, which includes all types of violence, indicates that violence is always an abuse by the aggressor of a power or type of relationship that he maintains over the other.

76. Fears are black and darken the horizons, hence the need to be guided by experts (Raimunda de Peñafort)

One of the biggest reasons why many victims of gender-based violence do not report is fear. Fear of reprisals, of the future without the abuser, of the judicial process that may follow, of possible loneliness or the reaction of the environment, among others. This fear can paralyse the victim, which is why it can be very helpful to ask for help from different types of professionals (police, social services, legal and penal services, doctors, psychologists, social workers…)

77. The world is bigger than a closed fist

A quite clear phrase that expresses the need for the person attacked to cease the link with his aggressor and to be able to escape from the violence, having a whole world to discover beyond the abuse.

78. Don’t Deal with Abuse

Abuse and gender-based violence must be eradicated, without tolerating them at any time or making concessions . It is common that after a specific violent action the aggressor promises to change and will not do so again, but in most cases this turns into a spiral of abuse, promises and relapses into abuse that has no end unless intervention is made or the victim decides to change the situation.

79. Don’t give up, please don’t give up. Even if the cold burns, even if fear bites, even if the sun hides and the wind is silent, there is still fire in your soul, there is still life in your dreams (Mario Benedetti)

Although this poem is not written with gender-based violence in mind, it is applicable to this issue: many victims end up giving up and seeing change as impossible. That is why it is essential to remember that one must not give up and that there is always hope and a life after coming out of violence.

80. Your fight is my fight

To conclude, we leave you with this little phrase in which the person being attacked is simply reminded that he or she is not alone, and that his or her struggle and suffering is that of all.

Bibliographic references:

  • Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (n.d.). Authors and authors against gender violence.