About the Issue

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior characterized by the intent to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner or other family members. The abuse can be established over time and in most cases, it begins subtly with insults, a shove or by alienating the survivor from family and friends. With time, the abusive behavior can be more frequent and severe. Domestic violence can take many forms such as: 

  • Physical. Any use of force that causes pain or injury, such as hitting, kicking or slapping.
  • Sexual. Abuse can include sexual harassment, sexual assault or manipulating a person into having sex by using guilt or threats
  • Emotional and/or verbal. Constant criticism, threatening to hurt loved ones or harassment at school or in the workplace
  • Economic. Controlling a person’s income or financial assistance, misusing one’s credit or making it difficult for a person get or maintain a job 
  • Psychological. Minimizing or blaming a person for the abuse, intimidation and/or threats or destroying property 

Domestic violence is characterized by violent actions or threats of violent actions, including behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound a partner. 

Domestic violence is the most commonly used term for this kind of violence, but it is also known as intimate partner violence, family violence or battering. These definitions vary between states, countries and organizations, but they are all based in the same premise—the abuse of power and control in familial, co-habiting or intimate relationships. 

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