What is Domestic Violence?

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is abuse that happens between members of the same family or persons involved in a close relationship: husband/wife; boyfriend/girlfriend; parent/child; same sex couple; adult child and/or elderly parent.

The Code of Virginia Definition of Domestic Abuse: "Family abuse" means any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury and that is committed by a person against such person's family or household member. Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault in violation of Article 7 (§ 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. The person's spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person. The person's parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of whether such persons reside in the same home with the person. Any individual who has a child in common with the person, whether or not the person and that individual have been married or have resided together at any time. Any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the person, and any children of either family or household member residing in the same home with the person.


Domestic Violence Cycle of Abuse

Phase 1: Tension-Building

This is a time of minor conflicts when threats of violence may increase. This phase may last from a few hours to many months.

Phase 2: Violence

Violence erupts as the abuser throws objects at the other partner. It also includes hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, or using weapons. Once the attack starts, the victim can do little to stop it. There are generally no witnesses.

Phase 3: A Period of Remorse (Honeymoon Phase)

A period of remorse may follow violent behavior. The abuser may apologize, often excessively, and may express guilt or shame. Many abusers will buy gifts, flowers, etc. so that the victim will forgive the abuse. Oftentimes, the abuser will promise to go into treatment voluntarily, promise that the violence will never occur again, and promise that he or she will change.

Phase 4: Phase 1 Begins Again

The tension-building stage starts all over again. However, the next time the assault occurs, chances are it will be much more severe.


Who is a victim?

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, race, gender, or position in the family. Although the majority of intimate-partner violence victims are women abused by a male partner, women can be victims of a female partner in a same-sex relationship. Additionally, a portion of annually reported victims of domestic battery, homicide, and sexual abuse are men; men can be the victims of an intimate partner in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships. For more information on victims of domestic violence and statistics/programs, see the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.


Do you need services?

If you or someone you care about is in a situation that makes you afraid, uncomfortable, or unsafe, services are available. To decide if available area resources are appropriate for your situation, click the link below: 

Links to Domestic Violence Resources