What is domestic violence?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Domestic violence is a crime committed by a person against someone who is in an intimate relationship with the victim, has been in an intimate relationship with the victim, or lives in the same household as the victim. The exact definition of domestic violence varies somewhat from state to state. The term traditionally referred to violence by one spouse against another, usually by a husband against a wife. The meaning has been extended in many states to include children, parents, siblings, same-sex partners, and members of the same household.

The crimes committed in domestic violence include assault, battery, homicide, stalking, and rape. Domestic violence is sometimes defined as a pattern of intimidation that a present or former spouse, intimate partner, family member, member of the same household uses to control another. For example, if a domestic partner keeps track of all the activities of the other partner, follows the partner, repeatedly questions him/her about infidelity, and uses implied or direct threats to restrict when the other partner leaves the home, this might be enough to constitute domestic violence in some states. Most often domestic violence takes the form of actual battery of the victim, from mere pushing to slapping and punching, to kicking, cutting, and burning. The victim might be a child, an adult, or an elder.

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