Domestic Violence

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence refers to violent or abusive acts committed by one family or household member against another, such as child abuse or spousal abuse. Domestic violence can refer to physical harm, or behavior that is controlling, coercive, or threatening. It can occur in any kind of intimate relationship — married or unmarried, straight or gay, living together, or simply dating.

Domestic violence (sometimes called “spousal abuse”) usually involves:

  • Repetitive physical and psychological abuse
  • A “cycle of violence”

Specific crimes charged vary based on:

  1. The severity of the victim’s injuries
  2. Whether a minor was present
  3. Whether a protective or restraining order was violated

Anyone can become a domestic violence offender or victim. While rape and murder can be forms of domestic violence, most often domestic violence consists of lesser forms of physical abuse such as slapping and pushing. Stalking can also be a form of domestic violence.

Forms of Domestic Violence

Many forms of abuse are included in the definition of domestic violence:

  • Physical abuse can include hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching (any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim)
  • Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser coerces or attempts to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victim’s consent
  • Emotional abuse involves invalidating or deflating the victim’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem
  • Economic abuse takes place when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant

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