The Types of Domestic Violence

The Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can occur in many forms. Often, people only think of physical violence as domestic violence. Other forms, such as emotional abuse, can harm victims just as much, but the damage may not be as visible. Often, unless the violence is physical, victims may feel they have no grounds to seek help for the abuse.

Victims may feel helpless or doubt if what they are experiencing is actually abuse. They may try to justify the behavior or downplay it as they hope for improvement. Domestic violence often escalates, however, and what may begin as name calling can escalate to physical and sexual violence.

Domestic violence can even turn deadly, so it is important for victims to recognize and report domestic violence before it is too late. Learn more about what is considered domestic violence.

Physical Abuse

Physical violence is often what people imagine when they think of domestic violence. Injuries caused by abuse do not need to be severe to be considered serious. In California, physical assault against a spouse or romantic partner is punishable. Behaviors that constitute physical abuse can be:

  • Hitting
  • Punching
  • Hair pulling
  • Kicking
  • Assault with objects
  • Scratching
  • Shoving
  • Stabbing
  • Choking
  • Forcing substance use

Sexual Abuse

Another form of physical violence, sexual abuse is a common form of domestic violence. It can include sexual assault and rape, as well as prostitution, unwelcome touching, harassment, and similar unwanted advances. Sexual abuse can be interpreted broadly, and any coercion regarding sexual matters can be considered abuse. Denial of contraception or abortion is included under the umbrella of sexual abuse. California takes sexual abuse cases seriously, and you can use instances of sexual abuse to build a case against your abusive partner.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse can be difficult to identify, but is just as serious as any other form of domestic violence. An abuser may try to financially cripple their victim by preventing them from working outside the home, having their own income or finances, hindering their education, or other ways of controlling their victim’s financial independence. Often, all resources are pooled into a joint account controlled by the abuser. There may be no support in place for victims, and often the victim is completely at the mercy of their abusive partner for money to pay for food, clothing, and other bills.

Emotional Abuse

Destroying the victim’s self-worth is the goal of emotional abuse. Attacks on the victim’s intelligence, independence, self-esteem, hobbies, and other aspects can be used to control the victim. This form of abuse relies on persistent humiliation and criticism to cause the victim to doubt their worth and submit to their abusive partner. Controlling their victim can make an abuser feel powerful and safe, even if the abuse is subtle. When a relationship is extremely coercive, a victim may be able to seek legal action against their partner. If the relationship isn’t physically violent or coercive, the only action victims may have is a breakup.

Psychological Abuse

Any fear-causing, threatening, or intimidating behavior can be classified as psychological abuse. The behavior needs to be persistent and significant to merit a domestic violence charge for the abusive partner. Behaviors that could be considered psychologically abusive include isolation, preventing the victim from leaving the house, threatening violence or blackmail, or other coercive behaviors. Psychological abuse may not be enough to prove a domestic violence case unless the abuse is severe and pervasive.

Getting Help with Your Abusive Relationship

If you are in an abusive relationship, you may feel trapped, but help is available. Often domestic violence goes unreported due to misunderstandings about what is considered violence. Reporting domestic violence can help you break out of an abusive relationship and protect you from your abusive partner. Your abuser may be prosecuted for their crimes against you, or you may be able to gain the protection of a restraining order and institutional support as a victim.

If your relationship has become abusive, you may want to seek legal representation. You deserve to feel safe, and if your partner is threatening or harming you, you can bring a claim against them for domestic violence. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff, you can find the legal support you need. I am your Westlake Village family law lawyer with over 30 years of experience handling domestic abuse cases, divorces, and child custody battles. Whatever your legal needs are, I can provide you with compassionate, one-on-one legal services.


Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff today by calling (805) 633-4999 and schedule a free consultation.


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