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What does ‘domestic violence’ legally mean?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Blog, Domestic Violence

California police arrest thousands of residents each year on suspicion of domestic violence. Here, we’ll discuss what domestic violence means in the legal realm, and how law enforcement protects victims.

What is the definition of domestic violence?

The US Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a repetitive pattern of abusive behavior that one partner uses to maintain or gain control of the other in an intimate relationship.
Domestic violence need not be intentional; even if a partner is not purposefully committing violence, he or she might still be criminally responsible.
Sometimes, even the victim of domestic violence might not realize that he/she is experiencing domestic violence.
Regardless of perception, law enforcement will arrest and prosecute anyone it believes is committing the crime.

The different types of domestic violence

There are many kinds of domestic violence. Here are the various types of domestic violence that might result in a criminal prosecution:

  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Cyberstalking
  • Stalking
  • Emotional abuse
  • Economic abuse
  • Threats

Who is a victim of domestic violence

Once upon a time, domestic violence was colloquially referred to as “wife abuse.” However, contrary to popular belief, domestic violence can affect anyone. This can include spouses, children, family members, or any cohabitants in a home, regardless of age, gender, or other factors.

Dating violence

As one form of domestic violence, dating violence is defined by the Violence Against Women Act as violence between two members of an intimate or sexual relationship. Accordingly, if there is an established pattern to a romantic relationship, violence in this context might be construed as dating violence by the justice system.

Domestic violence affects victims of all backgrounds and identities. Victims have a right to seek protection from the state. California law provides severe criminal penalties for perpetrators.