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What is Considered Domestic Violence?

What is Domestic Violence

Going Through Something Difficult? Know When It's Domestic Violence

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. If you are ready to make a plan to leave your relationship, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If speaking isn’t an option or you would prefer not to, you can text LOVEIS to the Hotline: 22522.

A protective order through law enforcement can help if you are the victim of violence. Please remember that help is always available, and you are never alone.

For Texas residents: Check links for Dallas County resources and shelters, Denton County resources, Collin County resources, Tarrant County resources, and information on shelters in every county.

It isn’t always obvious what is and isn’t considered domestic violence. In addition to the topic not usually being discussed openly or in depth, abusive people may try to convince their victims that what they are doing isn’t “that bad” or may deny what they have done. This often leaves victims feeling confused, guilty, or in denial about what they are experiencing. It is not unusual for a person going through abuse from their partner to take a while to recognize what is occurring.

Estimates vary, but domestic violence is a lot more common than many people realize. Many sources say the numbers are approximately one in three women and one in ten men will experience domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV).

Sadly, most of those experiencing this abuse, both victims and perpetrators, never seek help. It does not have to be that way for you or anyone you know experiencing IPV. By knowing what is considered domestic violence, you can feel empowered to escape it.

What Domestic Violence Looks Like

Some people are surprised to learn what is considered a form of violence. However, even if these actions don’t seem all that bad at first, it is not uncommon for them to escalate. Common forms of domestic violence include:

  • Pushing

  • Kicking

  • Slapping

  • Punching

  • Scratching

  • Pulling or ripping out hair

  • Strangling

  • Biting

  • Spitting at or near partner

  • Throwing objects at or near partner

  • Subjecting someone to reckless driving

  • Using anything as a weapon

  • Threatening partner with weapons

  • Abuse resulting in lacerations, broken bones, internal injuries or miscarriage

  • Abuse leading to disfigurement or disability

Some people are surprised to learn that reckless driving is a form of violence, but anything that puts someone’s physical safety at risk is considered violence. Simply driving recklessly is not necessarily violence; but driving to intentionally make someone fear for their safety is.

This is far from an exhaustive list. If you are harmed in any way physically by your partner or made to fear for your safety or life, it is probably a form of IPV.

The Many Forms of Domestic Abuse–Not Always Physical

The term “violence” is normally used to describe an action involving physical force. Domestic abuse is not always domestic violence, although many domestic violence help organizations do use the terms violence and abuse interchangeably. This is because they are all forms of closely related behavior and cause similar effects.

Domestic violence and other forms of abuse are most often a piece of the cycle of abuse. Abusers seek to control and feel entitlement to their partners, so their behavior very commonly follows a particular pattern. They will act in this way so that they can hurt their victim and still maintain their relationship.

1. Physical Abuse

This is what most people think of when they imagine domestic violence, and what we described as “what domestic violence looks like.”

2. Sexual Abuse

A few forms of sexual abuse include:

  • Coercion

  • Sexual assault

  • Forcing a partner to do sexual acts they don’t want to, including sex work, watch pornography, or have sex with others

  • Harming a partner non-consensually during sex, such as biting or choking them

  • Birth control sabotage

3. Economic Abuse

Economic, or financial abuse, is a very common form of controlling a partner. Some examples include:

  • Controlling how money is spent

  • Giving an unrealistic “allowance”

  • Not allowing the partner to have their name on any bank account or piece of property

  • Forbidding the partner to work

4. Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse is where a lot of people believe there is a gray area (and there isn’t). Everything in this list in more can be classified as emotional abuse:

  • Ridiculing a partner’s identity

  • Humiliating a partner, either in public or in private

  • Abandoning someone in a dangerous place.

  • Mistreating pets (in order to distress their partner)

  • Making false accusations of affairs to harass their partner

  • Forbidding access to basic needs, such as medication or bathroom breaks

This is not an exhaustive list of domestic abuse. You may want to speak to a counselor or a lawyer experienced in domestic violence cases to get a clearer picture of what you’re going through.

Family Violent Crimes in Texas

Not all forms of abuse are illegal and can be prosecuted. However, Texas recognizes several different acts of family violence and penalizes them more severely than the same act inflicted on a non-family member.

These are the most common family violent crimes in Texas:

  • Domestic Assault - Assault is defined by purposely causing bodily injury to another person, intentionally engaging in provocative or offensive contact, or intentionally threatening another person with imminent bodily harm.
  • Aggravated Domestic Assault - Aggravated domestic assault is assault that causes serious bodily injury to someone, involves a deadly weapon (either use or exhibition), or both.

  • Continuous Violence - Two or more domestic assaults in 12 months can qualify as continuous violence.

  • Violation of a Family Protective Order - Just one violation can be a crime.

Some forms of domestic assault and violations of protective orders are classified as misdemeanors, but all the crimes listed above can potentially qualify as felonies.

When Children are Involved

Whether the child is experiencing abuse first-hand or witnessing parental domestic violence, it takes a toll on them. They can be individually victimized as well as used as a tool to intimidate their abused parent. There is a strong link between child abuse and adult domestic violence.

It’s often a great source of shame that your child has experienced abuse, so people often hold back when describing events to professionals. Children may also not talk about what they have experienced, but they do often suffer ill effects. Even if they don’t understand what happened, they are normally unhappy. It is beneficial for them to be able to speak to a counselor.

What to Do if You Think You Think You May Have Experienced Domestic Violence

Recognizing patterns is the first step to being free of domestic violence. You know what is happening to you, and you know for certain with that label that it is not okay.

If there is no immediate threat of harm, there are a few things you may want to do to prepare for the road ahead:

  1. Find help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or the resources listed at the top of this blog. They can also help you put together a safety plan and advise you on how you should leave.

  2. Speak with a lawyer.

  3. Do not make any sudden moves which may trigger your partner.

The most dangerous time for a victim experiencing domestic violence is when they are leaving the relationship. Do not underestimate what your partner might do to you, and always prepare for the worst.

Call us at (940) 293-2313 to discuss your legal options, or fill out a form online.