domestic violence | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing

Domestic violence is violent, aggressive, or harmful behavior within the home, most often defined in terms of spouses.

Domestic violence refers to any form of violent, aggressive, or harmful behavior that occurs within a household or intimate relationship. This type of violence can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse, and can have serious and lasting effects on the victim.

Domestic violence is a significant problem in the criminal justice system, as it often goes unreported or is not taken seriously by law enforcement agencies. Victims of domestic violence may be hesitant to come forward due to fear of retaliation, shame, or a belief that the abuse is somehow their fault.

One of the most common forms of such violence is spousal abuse. This occurs when one spouse uses physical violence, threats, or intimidation to control the other spouse. This type of abuse can also involve emotional or psychological abuse, such as verbal threats, isolation, or control over finances or other aspects of the victim’s life.

Other forms of domestic violence may include violence between siblings, violence between parents and children, or violence between unmarried partners. Regardless of the specific form it takes, domestic violence is a serious crime that can have long-lasting effects on the victim, including physical injuries, emotional trauma, and a reduced sense of safety and security.

In response to the problem, many countries have enacted laws and policies designed to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. In the United States, for example, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides federal funding to support programs that provide services and support to victims of domestic violence, including shelters, legal services, and counseling.

Law enforcement agencies have also taken steps to address it by providing specialized training to officers and developing protocols for responding to domestic violence calls. These protocols may include measures such as separating the victim and the abuser, making an arrest if appropriate, and providing information and resources to the victim.

Despite these efforts, domestic violence remains a significant problem in the criminal justice system, and much work remains to be done to prevent and address this type of abuse. This may involve increasing public awareness of the problem, improving access to services and support for victims, and providing more effective training and resources for law enforcement officers and other professionals who work with victims of domestic violence.

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Last Modified: 07/19/2021

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