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Intimate Partner and Family Violence

Intimate Partner and Family Violence (also known as relationship violence, spousal abuse, domestic abuse, family violence, intimate partner violence and domestic violence) has been broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends, or cohabitation. It has many forms including physical aggression or threats thereof, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, controlling or domineering behavior, intimidation, stalking, and economic deprivation. The principal aim of the abusive behavior is to gain and maintain power and control over another individual.

What is Relationship Violence?
Relationship Violence…

  • is a series of patterned behaviors over time
  • aims to gain or maintain power and control
  • involves harmful and coercive behaviors
  • is a choice
  • is learned
  • is not about anger management
  • is never the victim’s fault
  • is not caused by intoxication or mental illness

Relationship violence (RV) occurs when one partner feels the need to dominate the other and uses abusive tactics to exert, and then maintain, power and control over their victim. Relationship violence is chronic and progressive. They key to understanding the dynamics of RV is to understand that abuse is a choice. The perpetrator makes a conscious and willful decision to abuse.

Because RV is a choice, perpetrators do not abuse due to lack of control or because of an “anger management problem.” Some violent incidents may be precipitated by anger on the part of the abuser, however, if a lack of an ability to control one’s anger were the reason for domestic abuse, abusers would react violently to anyone who angers them whether at home, work, school or in public. Many survivors of RV relate that their abusers can turn their “anger” off and instantaneously, switching from being abusive privately to being charming in public when the situation suits them.

Forms of Abuse
There are many different forms of abuse that take place within the context of RV.

  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Digital abuse