What Do We Mean By Domestic Violence?

There are many definitions of Domestic Violence (or Intimate Partner Violence) that are floating around both in the literature and the media.

The definition I found to be most inclusive and useful is by Ron Potter-Efron with whom I trained to become a Certified Domestic Violence Specialist. He states:

“An act of domestic violence refers to any behavior by either gender which is intended to intimidate, injure (physically or emotionally) or control one’s intimate partner, family member or person with whom one is living.”

This definition challenges some preconceived notions we may have about DV.

1. It is gender inclusive rather than gender exclusive.

2. It expands the definition to include behavior beyond the typical idea that DV is about control.

3. It broadens the scope in that it includes anyone with whom the perpetrator is living.

Other important information in this broader definition concerns itself with the form the violence may take. It asks us to expand our perceptions to include intimidation, emotional injury and/or control.

What might this look like? Here’s a partial list:

1. frequent texts or voicemails from the perpetrator when the partner is out, either doing errands, visiting with family or friends or having time to him/herself.

2. isolating the partner from signifiant others.

3. controlling the money.

4. humiliating the partner in public.

5. withholding praise and appreciation.

6. constant criticism, belittling or blaming.

7. threatening to leave, take the children or hurt or kill him/herself.

These behaviors, over time, wear down a person’s resistance and self-esteem. Being subjected to this behavior over time leads to depression, anxiety and often repressed rage. It wreaks havoc on the body, the mind and the spirit.

For someone who is financially and emotionally dependent on the perpetrator of Domestic Violence it may feel like a prison from which there is no escape.

In future blog posts, I will discuss how to get help, what to do if someone you know is being victimized, and the effectiveness of treatment.

If there are any topics you’d like me to blog about, please let me know.