Domestic abuse is an important topic to discuss, because it's often misunderstood. While many people believe that domestic abuse is only when someone is physically hurt by their spouse or partner, the reality is that abuse takes many forms.
Domestic violence is perhaps better explained as intimate partner violence or relationship abuse. It usually happens between partners, though it can involve children or other family members in some cases.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence includes:
- Actions that cause fear
- Actions that prevent a partner from doing something they want or forcing them to act in a way they don't want to act
- Using physical violence
- Sexually abusing or harming a partner
- Economic deprivation
Each of these actions is a form of domestic violence. In many cases, people deal with multiple forms at the same time.
Is it easy to make mistakes that seem like domestic violence?
Yes, it's possible to perform acts that seem like violence but that may not be treated as such by the courts. For example, if you call your spouse a name, it's degrading, but a single occurrence probably isn't abuse.
Spousal abuse and domestic violence tends to occur over time and is of a repetitive nature. That's not to say that a single instance isn't enough to call the police on someone, but it's less likely to be classified as domestic abuse if it's not a serious offense.
Why does domestic abuse happen?
Domestic abuse happens because one person wants to control the other person. Essentially, abuse is about power and control.
Some of the actions an abusive person might take toward another include:
- Economically abusing the other party, preventing them from working or keeping their money
- Using threats to hurt or scare the other party
- Intimidating the other person to make them stay in the relationship or to stop them from getting help
- Using isolation as a way to prevent a person from reporting abuse
- Using children as leverage against the other party
There are many other things that a person might do that are classified as abuse, too. Simple things like defining male and female roles in a home or humiliating the other person can be abusive, too.
If you are accused of abuse by your partner, you need to be cautious about how you proceed. A strong defense is essential, because there are so many actions that could be called abuse and used against you.