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What is Domestic Violence?

There are many definitions of domestic violence used across the Department of Human Services. Some are in statute or rule, others are definitions used in practice. All include forms of physical injury/abuse, sexual abuse or assault, intimidation, verbal abuse and emotional abuse or threats of such. These tactics are used by one adult to coerce or control another.

When these acts are committed by a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, or date, they are referred to as intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence and domestic violence are present in all cultures, ages, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations and communities of faith.

 

Intimate partner violence versus domestic violence. In general, these terms mean about the same thing. Intimate partner violence is  used to describe abuse between current or former partners. Domestic violence can include abuse from a household member (including roommates or caretakers), intimate partners (including dating partners) or a family member (whether or not they live with the victim).

On this Web site we have elected to use the more common term of  "domestic violence" to provide general information for the public and DHS staff and providers.

We use the term "intimate partner violence" for our injury prevention data collection and education information, geared more to epidemiologists and health care professionals.


Stalking is often present in domestic violence situations. Stalking means intentional, knowing or reckless, repeated and unwanted contact with the victim that causes the victim reasonable fear regarding physical safety.

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