Importance of Understanding Domestic Violence
The U.S. Surgeon General recently declared domestic violence to be the number one health concern in our country today. Understanding the definition of domestic violence can help you take action against it. Some people may not even realize that they are inflicting domestic violence on someone else. On the flipside, victims will not know to take action against their abusers if they do not realize that what is being inflicted upon them is, in fact, domestic violence. Likewise, friends and loved ones of victims are in a better place to help if they understand what domestic violence looks like. Therefore, it is important that people understand the definition of domestic violence and the many forms it can take.
Definition of Domestic Violence
According to the United States Department of Justices Office on Violence Against Women, the definition of domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. Many forms of abuse are included in the definition of domestic violence:
Who Can be Victims of Domestic Violence
The definition of domestic violence goes on to say that victims can include anyone, regardless of socioeconomic background, education level, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence used to be referred to as wife abuse. However, this term was abandoned when the definition of domestic violence changed to recognize that wives are not the only ones who can fall victim to domestic violence. The definition of domestic violence now recognizes that victims can be:
Many people think that a victim of domestic violence can only obtain a protective order against his or her spouse. This is actually a myth. Most states allow victims of abusive cohabitant lovers to obtain protective orders (also referred to as temporary restraining orders or emergency protective orders). Some states allow victims of abusive adult relatives, roommates, or even non-cohabitating partners to obtain protective orders. The laws in each state are different. As recognition for the need for protection grows in each state, the law evolves to reflect it, so be sure to check the most updated laws in your state.
Dating violence is another form of domestic violence. The Violence Against Women Act defines dating violence according to the relationship between the abuser and victim. Dating violence is committed by a person in a social, romantic, or intimate relationship with the victim. The existence of such relationship is determined using the following factors:
Help for Victims
Help for Abusers
Get Immediate Legal Help With Your Domestic Violence Situation
Even if you think it's a one-time event, domestic violence is serious and often escalates over time. Don't let that happen to you. Learn more about the resources available to you and your loved ones as well as your rights under the law by speaking with an experienced family law attorney in your area.