Difference between domestic abuse and domestic violence

With a certain high profile court case being in the news, more focus than ever is turning to intimate partner violence. Specifically, what is the difference between domestic abuse and domestic violence, and how can you identify this? We explore this difficult subject in more detail.

Why is there confusion?

You may see the terms domestic violence and domestic abuse used interchangeably, especially with the government name for such acts being classed as “domestic violence and abuse”. Because of the nebulous and uncertain nature of this term, many become confused about what exactly constitutes violence vs abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse

As the government puts it “domestic violence and abuse” covers any single incident or repeated pattern of someone behaving in a way that is coercive or controlling, threatening, violent or otherwise abusive. This covers adults aged sixteen and over and can cover any kind of relationship – romantic, familial, or otherwise. It can encompass psychological or physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and even emotional abuse.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is a broader umbrella term which can also include domestic violence but has wider implications. For example, domestic abuse does not have to contain a physical or sexual element (though it can). Domestic abuse can be psychological abuse of a victim, such as degrading them or isolating them from family and friends. It can also cover financial abuse, such as refusing to allow them to work or gain their own income, rendering them reliant, or accessing their finances through force or coercion.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can be encompassed as domestic abuse but is specifically used in many cases to relate to instances of bodily threat or harm. This violence results in injury or the threat of injury and can be used to encompass sexual abuse or molestation. This can be a single instance or many.

Can both definitions be true?

In such cases, there is a reason that the government definition covers both areas rather than separating them fully. If someone believes that they are only being “truly” abused with violence involved, this can prevent them from seeking help and support, or leaving a damaging situation. Domestic violence and domestic abuse can go hand in hand, and be equally damaging to victims – so it is important to understand that even without physical violence or threat, an abusive situation can have many elements.

Whether you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence, it is important to reach out for the right support and know what your options are. Cordell & Cordell is experienced in this area of law, and can help you understand your rights and seek justice. Get in touch to see how we could help you.

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