You’ve likely heard the term domestic violence before and you understand that physical violence against a spouse is a form of it. However, domestic violence doesn’t always refer to physical acts, and it doesn’t always occur within a marital relationship. Many times, those who are committing domestic violence aren’t even aware that what they’re doing is against the law. For more information about the types of and how to protect yourself from domestic violence read on.
What Is Domestic Violence?
As explained by the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, domestic violence — also known as family violence — is an event between family or household members that either causes physical injury or creates the fear that physical injury is about to happen. Family or household members include those who are related, who are or were married, people who live together, people who have a child together, or those who are or were recently in a dating relationship. Domestic violence can happen to people of any socioeconomic background, education level, race, age, sexual orientation, gender, or religion.
The state does not, however, include the following in its definition of family violence:
- Discipline of a minor child by his or her parents or legal guardians, unless abuse happens
- Arguments between family members where there is no abuse or threat of physical violence
Family violence is not a separate crime from any crime that involves injury or fear of injury by a family or household member. Some crimes that could be considered either felony or misdemeanor family violence crimes, depending on the facts of the case, include:
- Disorderly conduct
- Breach of peace
- Sexual assault
What Are the Types of Domestic Violence?
There are several types of domestic violence. Here is a brief overview of each of these types:
- Physical abuse: According to information from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, examples of physical abuse include: hair pulling, punching, hitting, slapping, biting, or choking. Other examples include preventing the victim from calling the police or seeking medical attention, withholding food, forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol, driving recklessly or dangerously with the victim in the car, abandoning the victim in an unfamiliar place, or harming the victim’s children.
- Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse includes forcing the victim to have sex or perform sexual acts against her or his will, calling the victim sexual names or insulting the victim in sexual ways, holding the victim down during sex, demanding sex when the victim is sick or after physically injuring the victim, hurting the victim with weapons or objects during sex, purposefully trying to pass a sexually transmitted disease to the victim, ignoring the victim’s feelings regarding sex, forcing the victim to have sex with other people, or forcing the victim to watch pornography.
- Emotional abuse: Emotional abusers engage in such behavior as calling their victim names; acting jealous or possessive; attempting to isolate the victim from family and friends; monitoring where the victim goes or whom they spend time with; punishing the victim by withholding affection; making threats against the victim, his or her children, other family members, or pets; damaging the victim’s property when upset such as kicking in doors or punching holes in the walls; serially cheating on the victim and then blaming him or her for the behavior; attempting to control the victim’s appearance; or gaslighting, which is the act of manipulating a situation or conversation so that it makes the victim question his or her own reality and therefore his or her own sanity.
- Economic abuse: Examples of economic abuse include providing the victim with an allowance or demanding receipts in order to control their purchases, placing the victim’s paycheck in the abuser’s account and denying access to it, forbidding the victim from working or limiting the hours that the victim can work, stealing money from the victim or the victim’s family or friends, using the funds from the children’s savings accounts without permission, living in the home but refusing to work or to help with the bills, making the victim give the abuser his or her tax return or confiscating joint tax returns, or refusing to give the victim money for necessities such as food, electricity, or medical care.
- Psychological abuse: Psychological abuse is the use of fear or intimidation to control the victim. In addition to threatening physical harm against the victim, a psychological abuser may also threaten harm against pets, the destruction of property, or may isolate the victim from loved ones and prevent him or her from going to school or to work. Psychological abuse may also include using guilt in order to control the victim’s actions, denying abusive behavior, blaming the victim for his or her own problems, or being indifferent to the victim’s feelings.
- Threats: Threats are a form of psychological or emotional abuse in which the abuser threatens to physically hurt himself or herself, the victim, of the children in order to manipulate or control the victim.
- Stalking: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define stalking as repeated harassment or threats that cause a person to fear for their safety. Stalking behaviors can take place in the form of threatening phone calls, text messages, spying, showing up at the victim’s home or workplace, or leaving unwanted gifts or cards. The victims of stalking generally know and/or have had an intimate relationship with the stalker.
- Cyberstalking: Marshall University’s Women’s Center explains that cyberstalking is the use of the Internet, email, or other telecommunication technologies to harass or stalk another person. It is not merely an annoying email, but rather a deliberate and persistent communication, often with disturbing or inappropriate content, even after the recipient has asked the sender to stop contacting them.
As shown, domestic violence encompasses a number of physical actions, verbal statements, and psychological behaviors, each with the purpose of hurting a family or household member or making them fear that an abuser will hurt them. For further information about domestic violence and how the Connecticut family violence law impacts you in your own situation, contact a lawyer who understands domestic violence.