Skip to content

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Definition

Domestic violence is a broad term that is typically used to describe abuse offenses committed against an intimate partner, family member or other individuals residing in the attacker’s household. There is a broad spectrum of crimes that domestic violence can cover that include sexual, physical, economic, emotional or psychological attacks against a domestic partner. One of the key underlying characteristics of a domestic violence offense is the objective of an abusive party to exert control over a victim. At times, many victims feel trapped, vulnerable or terrified, which make these crimes some of the most under-reported crimes in the United States.

Who Can Be a Victim of Domestic Violence?

It can be difficult at times to ascertain who can be a victim of domestic violence since the definition is intentionally broad to protect as many victims as possible. Historically speaking, domestic violence only related to the abuse of a female spouse; however, the definition has been substantially expanded. Domestic violence victims have no limitations on education level, race, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, gender or religion. Today, domestic violence victims can include:

  • Sexual/Dating/Intimate Partners
  • Family members
  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Cohabitants

An important distinction is that protective orders are available to victims that are not only spouses but also cohabitant lovers, relatives or roommates. The protective or temporary restraining order that will be provided depends on the specific state’s statutes and how they define domestic violence. That said, there is usually an area in each state’s statutes with an expansionist policy to protect as many victims as possible.

What Essentially Defines an Act of Domestic Violence?

A domestic violence charge is defined by each state depending on the relationship between the abuser and the victim along with the nature of the abusive acts that were committed. Today, the laws not only protect women. They have been expanded to include children and other cohabitants as well. Some of the most common elements included in a domestic violence charge can consist of psychological attacks, isolation from others, sexual attacks, physical attacks, destruction of property, and withholding of financial means. Typically, the victim is paralyzed or trapped within the abuse making it very difficult for them to escape unless they report it or another individual suspect it and then reports the abuse. Recently, stalking has been added to some state domestic violence statutes because stalking is an offense that can be connected to domestic violence when the victim successfully obtains a protective order and attempts to relocate away from their abuser.

What are the Different Types of Domestic Violence?

Many potential different kinds of domestic violence can be combined into a domestic violence charge. Below are some of the most common:

  • Physical abuse: can include biting, slapping, battering, punching, shoving, hitting or burning. This can also be extended to denying a victim treatment for their wounds.
  • Emotional abuse: usually occurs when the abuser deflates the victim’s sense of self-esteem. This can include name calling or interfering with the victim’s professional prospects or relationships with their children.
  • Sexual abuse: occurs when the abuser coerces or attempts to force the victim to having sexual contact without the victim’s consent. This can be expanded to sexually demeaning the victim or combining other forms of abuse with marital rape.
  • Psychological abuse: psychological abuse can transpire when the abuser attempts to cause fear in the victim in the form of threatening to hurt their children, pets, property or the victim themselves.
  • Economic abuse: many times, the abuser will take steps to ensure that the victim is financially reliant upon them to exert further control and fear upon them.
  • Stalking: usually includes following the victim, watching, harassing, spying, showing up unannounced at the victim’s home or work along with leaving harassing phone calls or messages. Continuous behaviors such as these can be added to a domestic violence charge.
  • Cyberstalking: this occurs when the abuser repeatedly emails or messages the victim repetitively to make them fearful.

Essential Facts to Know About Mandatory Reporting

Mandatory reporting is something widespread in state laws regarding domestic violence in the United States. Mandatory reporting provisions require medical professionals to report to the police when they reasonably suspect or know that a patient has been injured as a result of domestic abuse. The extent of this requirement depends entirely on the statutes of each state. The mandatory reporting requirement also has an element of federal law within it because if a medical professional does report the suspected domestic abuse, then they have to disclose that to the victim as a matter of federal law. This requirement is subject to certain exceptions; however, it is crucial to be aware of. The objective behind this is to give the victim some warning if the police come to their home, which can cause further aggression and retaliation from their abuser.

There is a great deal of confusion regarding domestic violence and how victims can be protected against this crime. Many national organizations help victims obtain safe and anonymous help. What is important to remember for domestic violence victims is that there is help available for a chance to start over. Be sure to reach out to these available options sooner rather than later for further protection, advice, and education on legal rights related to domestic violence in the United States.

Domestic Violence Glossary Definition

Domestic violence can include both misdemeanor or felony crimes of violence. These crimes may be committed by a former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by an individual that the victim shares children with, a person who has cohabitated or previously cohabitated with the victim or by any other individual who is protected by a specific jurisdiction’s domestic or family violence laws. Typically, domestic violence charges are centered around a pattern of abuse between the abuser and the victim. In the United States, each state has different laws on what constitutes domestic violence.