What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse, also called domestic violence or intimate partner violence, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Incidents are rarely isolated, and usually escalate in frequency and severity. Domestic abuse may culminate in serious physical injury or death.

Domestic abuse is typically manifested as a pattern of abusive behavior toward an intimate partner in a dating or family relationship, where the abuser exerts power and control over the victim.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, class or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic abuse can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Victims of domestic abuse may also include a child or other relative, or any other household member.

Sources: The United Nations, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Violence Domestic Hotline and Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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