Definition of Abuse

Domestic abuse can be broadly defined as any form of abusive behaviour by one or both partners in an intimate relationship, such as marriage, cohabitation, family, dating or even friends. Abuse is always intentional and cannot happen by accident.

Domestic violence has many forms including:

  • Physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, throwing objects), or threats of it
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse (withholding money or controlling all money including that of other family members)
  • Social abuse (restricting access to friends and/or family, insulting or threatening friends and/or family), controlling or domineering
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect)
  • Economic deprivation

Domestic violence may or may not constitute a crime, depending on local statutes, severity and duration of specific acts, and other variables.

Alcohol consumption, misuse of drugs, and mental illness have frequently been associated with abuse.