What is Domestic Violence? Part I

I am guilty of using the term domestic violence. That term refers to violence in the home. Domestic violence is actually a legal term, and the definition will vary from state to state. The reason for the legal definitions is to specify who will be charged under the domestic violence laws in each state and who will be charged with other charges. In other words in some states a person who complains that their spouse or live in partner hit them will be charged under the domestic violence section, whereas someone who complains that their date or boyfriend/girlfriend (who do not live together) will be charged with some other type of assault. Same offense, but different definitions. Domestic violence should probably be more appropriately called relationship violence. Two people who have formed a relationship together (and may or may not live together) and violence has occurred.

womenslaw.org                     jrsa.org

Did you know that their are different types of domestic violence? Experts have defined different types of domestic violence as the following:

  Common domestic violence- This person is seldom abusive outside the home. There is usually no sexual or emotional abuse. The abuser may be male or female. There are often very few incidents of violence and those are not usually a part of a pattern of control over the victim.

  Intimate terrorism- This person uses violence as a means of control. Even though the violence may have occurred only once or twice, the victim is at a higher risk of violent acts if the relationship ends and the abuser is more likely to plan their revenge. Even though the abuser may act enraged during an act of violence, often they show no physiological signs of rage. The feigning of rage is part of an act used to mask and  increase the intimidation and control.

  Violent resistance- When one partner begins controlling behaviors or becomes frightening, the other partner may react violently. It is a reaction to a perceived threat and is not a part of a pattern of control. May be a one time occurrence.

  Mutual violent control- basically it is when both partners in a relationship are physically violent, and there are attempts at controlling behavior on the parts of both parties. Though both parties may be violent, studies show that the woman is most likely to receive serious injury.

  Dysphoric-borderline violence- Often has a great emotional attachment on the victim. During an abusive incident will show physiological signs of rage. The abuser may be emotionally dependent, and may react violently out of frustration. May have problems of emotional adjustment problems, depression and/or fears of abandonment.


I am not an expert but I do know these things. Domestic violence is dangerous. All forms of domestic violence can lead to serious injury or death. It does take an experienced domestic violence expert to distinguish what type of domestic violence may be happening, and to assess the risk of danger to the victim. There are domestic violence agencies available to help a victim to assess their risk and assist them in remaining safe. If you have been the victim of an abusive incident, I do recommend that you make contact with a domestic violence agency and ask for their assistance. They do not make the decisions for you, decisions to stay or leave are yours. But they can talk with you and counsel you in what services they offer, what help is available to you and do a risk assessment.

Please stay safe!



  1. lisavc said,

    October 15, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Dysphoric-borderline violence

    What does the borderline part mean? the description sounds like my ex..he’s been violent with so many women though, can he possibly be that emotionally attached to all of them?
    he also is very similar to the description of Intimate terrorism..though he’s been violent many times. how would you classify someone who’s a bit of both?

  2. October 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Like I said, only an expert can tell for sure. They explore the various situations in which violence occurred, the types and frequency of the violence and other history to determine a type. Basically a type isn’t that important except maybe in risk assessment or the study of DV syndrome. You seem like me, you want to classify what happened to you. But in practical terms classifying it won’t change it, won’t make it better and won’t even explain what happened to you. But if you want to know more about it, check out the link- my writing is my interpretation of what I was reading, at the link you can read the actual wording. It is an interesting article.

  3. lisavc said,

    October 16, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Thanks. Yes it’s always intrigued me how he could turn out that way, knowing the family he comes from. Like he was’nt even related to them. One bad apple hey?

  4. D.P. said,

    October 16, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Great post, Sweet!

  5. heather said,

    October 23, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Interesting article. But I would argue that so-called “common domestic violence” (rare, in-home physical abuse, according to psychpage.com) is by definition “emotional abuse” within the context of an intimate relationship.

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