What is domestic violence?

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a crime committed by a person against someone who is in an intimate relationship with the victim, has been in an intimate relationship with the victim, or lives in the same household as the victim. The exact definition of domestic violence varies somewhat from state to state. The term traditionally referred to violence by one spouse against another, usually by a husband against a wife. The meaning has been extended in many states to include children, parents, siblings, same-sex partners, and members of the same household.
The crimes committed in domestic violence include assault, battery, homicide, stalking, and rape. Domestic violence is sometimes defined as a pattern of intimidation that a present or former spouse, intimate partner, family member, member of the same household uses to control another. For example, if a domestic partner keeps track of all the activities of the other partner, follows the partner, repeatedly questions him/her about infidelity, and uses implied or direct threats to restrict when the other partner leaves the home, this might be enough to constitute domestic violence in some states. Most often domestic violence takes the form of actual battery of the victim, from mere pushing to slapping and punching, to kicking, cutting, and burning. The victim might be a child, an adult, or an elder.

(Reviewed 12-08)

is abuse between family members or related persons. Domestic violence may come in many forms: actual physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, emotional abuse, threatening telephone calls, disturbances at a place of employment, stalking, and other forms of dominance and control. Domestic violence is distinguished from other kinds of abuse because of the special relationship between the persons. Domestic violence cases may be treated differently than cases of civil harassment because of the interpersonal relationships involved. At least one of the following relationship tests typically must be met in order to qualify a matter as a domestic violence case:

the parties are married now or were formerly married to one another

the parties are related by blood, marriage or adoption

the parties are currently or were formerly living together

the parties have now or used to have a dating or engagement relationship

the parties have a minor child in common

In some states, there does not have to be actual physical violence between the parties; emotional abuse or fear of physical harm is sufficient to qualify as domestic violence.

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