Social Factors of Vulnerability

Society is largely organized and structured by those in positions of power and tends to reflect their vision and understanding of what is important (for example, their interests, experiences, priorities and needs). People from marginalized groups may share a vulnerability to abuse (interpersonal or systemic) and discrimination due to their social conditions.

Women, people from marginalized ethnocultural groups and those with marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities (and other groups) are increasingly vulnerable to abuse, assault, discrimination and other manifestations of inequity and exclusion the more they:

  • lack information;
  • lack power and are dependant upon those who are most likely to have power over them;
  • are isolated.

(NB: This analysis was developed in 1978 by staff at a sexual assault centre in Columbus, Ohio. It enables us to understand the connections and linkages between the oppression of various marginalized social groups and has informed COPA’s work and the Safe@School project.)