What Is Domestic Violence?


  • He doesn’t allow her to see certain friends, or to have a job, or to leave the house, or to call the police.
  • He takes the phone, the car keys, her money, her purse and her clothes.
  • He insists that if they can’t have a conversation in the middle of the night then she must be having an affair.

These are all examples of domestic abuse which can often escalate into criminal behavior.

Common domestic violence offenses include:

  • Assault
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Criminal Threatening
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual Assault
  • Stalking
  • Terrorizing
  • Violation of a Protection from Abuse Order

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a crime committed between family or household members. By law, family or household members are defined as:

". . . spouses or domestic partners or former spouses or former domestic partners, individuals presently or formerly living as spouses, natural parents of the same child, [related] adult household members . . . or minor children of any household member when the offender is an adult household member. . ."

Who Does Domestic Violence Affect?

Domestic abuse is the single major cause of injury to women - more than automobile accidents, stranger rape, and muggings.

Any woman can be abused regardless of her race, educational background, religion, income level, or marital status.

Why Victims Stay

People often wonder, “Why does she stay?” The short answer is that leaving is the most dangerous time for a domestic abuse victim. The long answer includes:

  • Isolation
  • Language barriers
  • Embarrassment
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Children
  • Lack of financial independence
  • Culture
  • Pride

The list goes on.

If you are a victim you should know it is not your fault. No matter what excuse an abuser may use, no one deserves to be beaten or threatened. There are laws to protect you. There are places to get help.

The important thing to know is women do leave. Survivors of domestic abuse do build new lives. If you are a victim of domestic violence, get more information on what you can do.

Gender and Domestic Violence

Please note that abusers are often referred to as “he” because most often the abuser is male. However, please be aware that abuse can be – and is – perpetrated by women against men, or in same sex relationships.

The common element is one person in a domestic relationship uses power and control to emotionally, financially, and/or physically keep the other in a powerless position. And while substance abuse can make the violence worse, it is not the underlying cause of domestic violence.