What is Domestic Violence?

According to the National Victim Assistance Academy textbook...

Domestic violence is coercive behavior through the use of intimidating, threatening, harmful or harassing behavior. This definition validates that domestic violence includes multiple forms of abuse including physical, sexual and emotional or psychological. Here are specific examples of these types of behavior: Physical abuse. Physical abuse is usually recurrent and usually escalates both in frequency and severity. It may include the following:

  • Pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, punching, kicking the victim.
  • Holding, tying down or restraining the victim.
  • Inflicting bruises, welts, lacerations, punctures, fractures, burns, scratches.
  • Strangling the victim.
  • Pulling the victim's hair or dragging the victim by the victim's hair or body parts.
  • Assaulting the victim with a weapon.
  • Inflicting injury upon pets or animals.

Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse in violent relationships is often the most difficult aspect of abuse for women to discuss. It may include any form of forced sex or sexual degradation:

  • Trying to make or making the victim perform sexual acts against her will.
  • Pursuing sexual activity when the victim is not fully conscious, or is not asked, or is afraid to say no.
  • Physically hurting the victim during sex or assaulting her genitals, including the use of objects or weapons intravaginally, orally or anally.
  • Coercing the victim to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmittable diseases.
  • Criticizing the victim and calling her sexually degrading names (AMA 1992b, 40-41).
  • Engaging in unwanted sexual contact that may result in torn, stained or bloody underclothing; difficulty walking or sitting; pain, itching, bruising or bleeding in genital areas; unexplained venereal disease or genital infections.

Emotional or psychological abuse. Emotional or psychological abuse may precede or accompany physical violence as a means of controlling through fear and degradation. It may include the following:

  • Threats of harm.
  • Physical and social isolation.
  • Extreme jealousy and possessiveness.
  • Deprivation of resources to meet basic needs.
  • Intimidation, degradation and humiliation.
  • Name calling and constant criticizing, insulting and belittling the victim.
  • False accusations, blaming the victim for everything.
  • Ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing the victim's needs.
  • Lying, breaking promises and destroying the victim's trust.
  • Driving fast and recklessly to frighten and intimidate the victim.
  • Leaving the victim in a dangerous place.
  • Refusing to help when the victim is sick or injured.
  • Threats or acts of violence/injury upon pets or animals.