Definition of Domestic Violence Based on Victims’ Experiences

Domestic Violence

Is a pattern of behavior

in which one person exerts control over another through abuses which may be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and economic.

The abuse is ongoing rather than episodic;

its effects are cumulative rather than incident-specific

Physical violence — and the threat of such violence — is only one part of the pattern and might not be used at all.

Once physical violence is used, its threat is never forgotten.

Even when the physical violence is stopped by legal action or by separation,

the coercive control continues, especially in the child custody arena and via stalking.


This is the kind of definition used by domestic violence agencies.  It is a definition based on the experiences of abuse victims, and is very different from the legal (criminal) definition of domestic violence used by the police.

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