What Is the Definition of Domestic Abuse?

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What Is the Definition of Domestic Abuse?

What Is the Definition of Domestic Abuse or Domestic Violence?
What Is the Definition of Domestic Abuse or Domestic Violence?

The definition of domestic abuse is “violence or other abuse in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation”.

Domestic abuse can be any form of mistreatment, neglect, or abuse that an adult or a child experiences from a member of their family or loved one. Domestic abuse can include threats, violent behaviour, control, sexual violence, and more. In most cases, the abuse occurs between partners, ex-partners, or family members. Most victims of domestic abuse are women

The Definition of Domestic Abuse: Everything You Need to Know

There are many different forms of domestic abuse, including sexual, emotional, physical, and even financial abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when someone intentionally uses force against another person without their consent. This type of abuse can cause injury or pain. Types of physical abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Stabbing
  • Strangling
  • Choking

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse of an adult includes:

  • Sexual activity without the other’s consent
  • Sexual activity when asked to stop
  • Forcing someone to commit sexual acts

Sexual contact without consent is a crime, regardless of the relationship between the two people.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when another person uses actions or words to frighten, control, or isolate someone else. Emotional abuse can also be referred to as psychological abuse. Examples of emotional abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Threats
  • Yelling and criticizing
  • Preventing someone from seeing their family
  • Intimidating and/or humiliating
  • Bullying
  • Insults

Although many forms of emotional abuse are not a crime, emotional abuse may be a sign that the cause could get worse in the future.

Forms of emotional abuse that are crimes include:

  • Threats
  • Harassment
  • Stalking

Financial abuse

Financial abuse occurs when another person uses money to exploit or control another person, including:

  • Stealing or taking somebody’s money
  • Withholding money to control another person
  • Forcing someone to sell their belongings
  • Forcing someone to change their will


Neglect occurs when someone who has the duty to care for another person does not provide them with adequate care, including:

  • Failure to provide medication, health care, and personal hygiene
  • Not providing enough food
  • Failure to prevent physical harm
  • Failure to provide the necessities of life
  • Child abandonment

Intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence occurs within a dating or common-law relationship or within a marriage. It can be in both opposite-sex or same-sex relationships, and can occur during the relationship or after the relationship has ended.

Intimate partner violence may include physical violence or emotional manipulation and power/control over the other partner.

They may try to control what their partner wears, who they go out with, what they spend their money on, where the person goes, and more.

This type of abuse typically gets worse over time.

Child abuse and neglect

Child abuse includes emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. It also includes neglect and violence that children see or hear in their families.

The abuser is typically:

  • A parent,
  • Relative,
  • Brother or sister,
  • Teacher or,
  • Caregiver.

Children witnesses to family violence

Children who witness domestic abuse can be affected by hearing or seeing violence, which can have an effect on their emotional and behavioural development. Children who witness domestic abuse are also at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (click here to learn more about the effects of trauma).

For more information on child abuse and neglect, click here.

Elder abuse

Elder abuse occurs when a person in a position of trust causes risk or harm to an elderly adult. This abuse can include physical, emotional, or sexual harm and damage to property and/or theft.

No one deserves to go through domestic abuse. If you are going through it, or know somebody who is going through it, seek help today.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, please click here to view some helpful resources. You can also check out this blog post to learn more about the signs of domestic abuse.

Click here to donate now to Kelowna Women’s Shelter.

Did you learn a lot about the definition of domestic abuse from this post? Then don’t miss these articles either:

7 Alarming Domestic Violence Statistics You Need to Know
How Does The Law Handle Domestic Abuse in Canada?
Rethinking stereotypes: one woman’s story of abuse

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