What is Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is abuse between family members or related persons. Domestic violence may come in many forms: actual physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, emotional abuse, threatening telephone calls, disturbances at a place of employment, stalking, and other forms of dominance and control. Domestic violence is distinguished from other kinds of abuse because of the special relationship between the persons. Domestic violence cases may be treated differently than cases of civil harassment because of the interpersonal relationships involved. At least one of the following relationship tests typically must be met in order to qualify a matter as a domestic violence case:

  • the parties are married now or were formerly married to one another
  • the parties are related by blood, marriage or adoption
  • the parties are currently or were formerly living together
  • the parties have now or used to have a dating or engagement relationship
  • the parties have a minor child in common

In some states, there does not have to be actual physical violence between the parties; emotional abuse or fear of physical harm is sufficient to qualify as domestic violence.

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