What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.
Domestic violence is not an isolated, individual event, but rather a pattern of multiple tactics and repeated events. Unlike stranger-to-stranger violence, in domestic violence the assaults are repeated against the same victim by the same perpetrator. While physical assaults may occur infrequently, other parts of the pattern (such as sexual attacks, psychological attacks and/or economic coercion) may occur frequently or even daily. One battering episode builds on past episodes and sets the stage for future episodes. All tactics of the pattern interact with each other and have profound effects on the victims.
Domestic violence includes a wide range of coercive behaviors with a wide range of consequences, some physically injurious and some not; however, all are psychologically damaging. Some parts of the pattern are clearly chargeable as crimes in most states (e.g., physical assault, sexual assault, menacing, arson, kidnapping, harassment), while other battering episodes are not illegal (e.g., name-calling, interrogating children, denying access to the family automobile, control of financial resources). While the intervening professional sometimes must attempt to make sense of one specific incident that resulted in an injury, the victim is dealing with that one episode in the context of a pattern of both obvious and subtle episodes of coercion.
From “Understanding Domestic Violence: Preparatory