Definitions

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFINED
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another.  It may include the use of physical and sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse, stalking, and economic abuse.  Sexual, emotional, and psychological intimidation may also occur.  Domestic violence may include:

Physical Violence
  • Pushing, shoving, slapping, punching, and restraining among other acts
  • Physical intimidation (blocking doors, throwing objects)
  • Use of weapons
  • Stalking
Sexual Abuse
  • Attacks on sexual parts of the body
  • Forced sexual activities
  • Pressure to have sex
  • Rape (including marital/partner rape)
Emotional/Psychological/Verbal Abuse
  • Threats and coercive tactics
  • Controlling what the victim can and cannot do
  • Undermining a victim’s self-worth and self-esteem
  • Humiliation, denigration
  • Threatening to harm or kill a pet
  • Isolating the victim from family or friends
  • Blaming the abuse on the victim
  • Interrogating the victim and their children
  • Name-calling and yelling
Economic Abuse
  • Maintaining control over finances
  • Withholding access to money
  • Making the victim financially dependent
  • Not allowing the victim to work or go to school

Domestic violence occurs within opposite-sex relationships as well as same-sex relationships, between intimate partners who are married, divorced, living together, dating, or who were previously in a relationship. It is important to note that “[d]omestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large” (OVW, 2008).

DATING VIOLENCE
Dating violence involves a person who is or has been in a social relationship or a romantic or intimate nature with another person.   The existence of the relationship is based on the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE DEFINED
Sexual violence includes a wide array of non-consensual sexual activities, which may be perpetrated by partners, friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers. Consent is commonly recognized as approval or agreement given without force or coercion. One’s ability to consent is affected by age, disability, self-induced or forced intoxication of alcohol or drugs, and language barriers. Legal minors are unable to consent, as may be others who are incapacitated. Sexual violence victims represent a range of ages, but the focus of this article is adults and adolescents. Sexual violence may include but is not limited to:
Sexual Assault
  • Unwanted oral, anal, and vaginal penetration by penis, hand, finger, or other foreign object that is attempted or completed; commonly known as rape
  • Unwanted contact between the mouth and penis, vulva, or anus
  • Unwanted sexual touching, both above and underneath clothing
  • Forcing an individual to masturbate or masturbate another party
  • Physical sexual acts forced through threats of violence or coersion
  • Sexual abuse is a term commonly used when discussing sexual assault, and refers to a series of repeated acts

Sexual victimization also includes non-contact acts which may include:

Exhibitionism

• Compulsion to reveal a body part, often one’s genitals, to an unsuspecting stranger

Voyeurism
  • Sexual interest in spying on people engaged in private, personal behaviors; for example undressing, urinating, or engaging in sexual activity
  • Voyeuristic behaviors are criminal acts, while interest is not
 Sexual Photography
  • Taking photographs of a sexual nature without the consent of the subject(s)
  • Public display of images taken in a private context without the subject’s consent

Additionally, the spectrum of sexual violence includes forms of violence which are subject to civil law.

 Sexual Harassment
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Any hostile environment (workplace, school, etc.) where sexual joking, viewing of pornography, and/or degrading images are present
STALKING DEFINED

Stalking has been defined in a variety of ways. Most commonly, and conservatively, stalking is defined as “the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing”1 of an individual in a course of conduct “that would cause a reasonable person fear.”2 Additionally, stalking involves persistent harassment over time and often more than one type of activity.3 Examples of stalking behaviors include but are not limited to:

Non-consensual Communication
  • Unwanted phone calls
  • Postal mail
  • Electronic mail (e-mails)
  • Text messaging
  • Instant messaging (IM)
  • Contact through social networking sites
  • Sending or leaving gifts or other items
 Physical Acts of Stalking
  • Following
  • Tracking with GPS devices
  • Trespassing
  • Spying, peeping
  • Appearing at one’s home, business, or favored social location
  • Leaving written messages or objects
  • Vandalizing property
  • Surveillance
  • Harming a pet
CONSENT

Consent is commonly recognized as approval or agreement given without force or coercion. One’s ability to consent is affected by age, disability, self-induced or forced intoxication of alcohol or drugs, and language barriers. Legal minors are unable to consent, as may be others who are incapacitated.

Violence Against Women Online Resources, University of Minnesota, 2013.