Definition of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence goes by many names, such as spousal abuse, domestic abuse, partner abuse, and others. No matter the label, the definition of domestic violence is the same. It is the abuse of another person within the confines of an interpersonal relationship, usually an intimate or family relationship. Though domestic violence is most commonly considered to be physical abuse of a spouse or partner, other abuses such as child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal rape, and even emotional abuse can also fall under its umbrella.
Local laws affect what constitutes domestic violence. For example, not every country considers spousal rape a crime. Therefore, domestic violence would be defined differently in these areas, at least by interpreters of the law. There is also some dispute about whether a single act of violence constitutes domestic violence, or if it should be termed simply as assault. The legal consequences of a single violent incident are determined by the laws of the community and state.
There are many factors influencing violence in the home. Alcohol is often cited as a contributing factor. Spouses or parents that would otherwise be described as loving, or at least non-violent, may become dangerous after a few drinks. Rarely, however, does the fact that the abuser was under the influence of alcohol affect the legal ramifications of the incident. Other illegal substances, which alter mood and behavior, can also contribute to the problem of domestic violence.
Though it’s certainly not always true, children of domestic abusers may be more likely to become abusers in their own right in adulthood. If your partner was abused or had an abusive parent, it may be a good idea to pay close attention to warning signs, such as extreme jealousy, a desire to isolate you from family or friends, and manipulative or controlling behaviors. It’s also important to remember that not all abusers have abusive pasts, and you should be aware of these warning signs in any relationship.
In some situations, both partners abuse one another, and are therefore simultaneously abusers and victims. Though, it may be more difficult to point to a single person as the perpetrator, this would still be considered domestic violence. Co-violence, in fact, may be even more dangerous. These relationships have twice the risk of escalating into violent episodes because they involve two abusers.
Domestic violence affects many families throughout the world. The effects of these violent behaviors last long after the bruises heal, and affect not only the person being abused, but also the people around them. If you are being abused, seek help immediately.