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Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behavior used to maintain power in a relationship by one partner over the other. While women are disproportionately victims, men are also victims of domestic violence. Reports show that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. While each case is unique, abusers use a range of abusive behavior to control their partners. Domestic violence is not just a problem, it’s one of the top health concerns worldwide. Below we will discuss domestic violence and intimate partner violence (including definitions and types).


“The term ‘domestic violence’ includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.”

What Are the Types of Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can take numerous forms, and abusers rarely limit themselves to a single type. The website resource for those seeking legal representation), lists the following eight major categories of domestic violence:

Physical abuse: Physical assault, (striking, punching, battering, shoving, etc.). Basically, any form of violence inflicted on another person. Denying food, water, or medical treatment, and forcing drugs or alcohol on another person are forms of physical abuse. Note: homicide is also included.

Sexual abuse: Coercing (and attempting to coerce) a victim into any form of sexual contact or behavior without the victim’s consent. This includes touching or attacking sexual parts, marital rape, and sexually demeaning a victim with language or behavior.

Emotional abuse: The systematic attack upon a victim’s sense of self-worth or self-esteem. This includes chronic criticism, name-calling, and damaging a victim’s other relationships to an extent that the victim’s abilities and life quality are negatively affected.

Economic abuse: This includes making the victim financially reliant on the abuser against their will (or attempting to do so). This can include exerting unauthorized control of the victim’s own finances, an abuser withholding funds the victim needs for necessities, and even prohibiting a victim from having a job or going to work.

Psychological abuse: Inducing fear and terror through intimidation. This includes direct threats of physical harm, threatening self-harm, threatening harm to others (such as children), threatening or enacting violence against pets, enacting or threatening destruction of property, exhibiting weapons with implied intent to use them, and detaining victims against their will.

Stalking: A concerted effort to follow, surveil, and stay in touch with a victim, including unwanted contact, appearances, messages, correspondence, gifts, and information-gathering.

Cyberstalking: This comprises stalking activities that are perpetrated online (in e-mail or via social media) that inflict damage or emotional distress upon a victim.

With these definitions in place, we will continue this discussion in the second part of this two-part article. This will include some statistics about the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States and what can be done to mitigate and prevent it.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Both legally and within Life Under Construction’s operations, there is a difference between Intimate Partner Violence and Domestic Violence. While they may appear to be the same thing, and certainly have much overlap, Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence are two different terms with different meanings. Domestic Violence is violence that takes place within a household and can be between any two people within that household. Domestic Violence (DV) can occur between a parent and child, siblings, or even roommates. IPV includes any behavior that one intimate partner (current or former) uses to establish power and control over another intimate partner. In relationships affected by Intimate Partner Violence, we view the survivor of IPV as the partner who the controlling behavior is aimed at. In the same context, we view the perpetrator of IPV as the partner leveraging power and control over the other partner.

IPV can occur regardless of whether the individuals involved are/were living together or not. This distinction is what separates it from the term Domestic Violence, which generally refers to violence occurring between residences within one single location. The term Intimate Partner Domestic Violence (IPDV) more specifically refers to the abusive behavior of residents of one single location who are in an intimate relationship with each other, in turn excluding family members or other residents living within the household who would fall under the broader term of Domestic Violence.

Types of Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence can take many different forms, which can include:

Sexual abuse: Forcing an intimate partner to participate in a sex act without their explicit consent. Sexual abuse also includes any sexual contact between an adult and a partner who is below the age of 18.

Physical abuse: Hurting or attempting to hurt someone by punching, kicking, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, burning, strangling, grabbing, choking, or shoving them. Physical abuse also includes actions such as throwing things, banging doors, or punching walls.

Emotional abuse: Undermining the person’s self-worth by criticizing them constantly, gaslighting them, calling them names, isolating them from their family and friends, monitoring their activities, and trying to prevent them from working or doing things they enjoy.

Psychological abuse: Terrorizing the person, playing mind games with them, or threatening to harm them or their loved ones.

Financial abuse: Maintaining control over joint finances, withholding access to money, and tracking the person’s spending. Financial abuse also includes preventing an intimate partner from working, studying, or taking other steps to become financially independent.

Stalking: A pattern of behavior intended to harass, annoy, frighten, or harm the person. Stalking can involve behaviors such as phoning the person repeatedly, mailing them letters or gifts, following them as they go about their day, or finding ways to spy on them while they’re at home or work.

Online abuse: Using email, social media, dating apps, and other digital platforms to harass, abuse, stalk, threaten, bully, or manipulate an intimate partner.