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What Is The Difference Between Violence and Abuse?

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Understanding the difference between domestic violence and abuse charges is vital, especially if you or your loved one are caught up in a lawsuit.

With over a decade of experience in dealing with domestic violence and abuse cases, our legal team has provided all the information you need to know about the definitions and differences between these two. 

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Domestic violence crimes include criminal damage, animal cruelty, trespassing, disorderly conduct, harassment, kidnapping, stalking, threatening, and intimidating.
  • Domestic abuse can include crimes such as coercive control, economic abuse, digital abuse or bullying, rape, homicide, and harassment.
  • Domestic violence is usually when a crime has no bodily injuries or human contact, but domestic abuse can imply physical harm. 

Domestic Abuse & Domestic Violence in State Codes

A lawyer's gavel on a table

Both the term domestic violence and domestic abuse are similar terms that are used in other states’ codes and yet have different definitions. According to the law, they can refer to a crime or a class of crimes [1].

Other states also use these terms in other parts of their codes, such as family law or domestic relations law. This category of law includes civil statutes related to divorce, child custody, and visitation [2].

What Is Domestic Violence?

Someone holding a woman's shoulderDomestic violence is a form of intimidation by using force that occurs between family members or intimate partners in a relationship that usually does not lead to physical injuries [3]

The use of force by the abuser can take many different forms, including threats of:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Economic abuse

Based on previous cases, our lawyers discovered that all these types of abusive threats were used in a romantic or sexual relationship by a current or former spouse to control or intimidate the victim through acts of intimidating violence [4].

The World Health Organization states that domestic violence is a serious health problem. Domestic violence can have a negative effect on the physical, mental, and sexual health of the victim [5].

Some young adult females between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to experience physical and psychological forms of domestic violence [6].

4 Signs of Domestic Violence

A person keeping someone quiet

Abusive relationships always involve one person (the abuser) trying to have more control than the other individual. This is done through harmful words and actions that intimidate and scare the other individual. 

While some relationships start out abusive, abuse usually starts off subtly and gets worse over time [7].

If you’re in a relationship and you’re not sure if it’s abusive, look for these signs:

1. Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when an intimate partner threatens to cause you or your child intentional infliction of a physical injury or physical pain.

2. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any sexual violence or assault [8]. This type of abuse could also include patterns of sexual coercion. For example, a partner might threaten to hurt you if you don’t have sex with them.

3. Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse can be hard to recognize because it is often subtle. It might come from anyone, like a boss or co-worker [9].

It could include:

  • A woman crying with a man in the backgroundEfforts to make you do what they want
  • Verbal abuse such as humiliating you
  • Talking down to you through text messages or face to face
  • Putting down your interests, career, and/or relationships
  • Manipulating and guilt-tripping you
  • They may say that you are cheating on them or that you do not love them
  • Tempers can flare when someone doesn’t get what they want
  • Isolating yourself from loved ones can make you feel lonely and sad

Emotional abuse is usually a component of other forms of abuse.

4. Financial Abuse

Financial abuse includes preventing someone from having access to their own money. This often makes it difficult to leave a violent situation in previous cases.

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See the other sexual abuse lawsuits our attorneys have taken on.

What is Domestic Abuse?

A person with a closed fist with someone in the background

Domestic abuse is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical, emotional, financial, or sexual assault that can lead to physical pain or injuries. It’s a form of power and control that one spouse or partner uses over another in an intimate relationship [10].

“We think of domestic abuse as something that happens ‘behind closed doors. But it’s actually happening all around us. We don’t know what it looks like.”– Jess Hill, Journalist

3 Signs of Domestic Abuse

Most people don’t realize they are being abused. However, if you do, it is worth getting help [11]. Here are some of the signs you should look out for:

1. Physical Signs Of Domestic Abuse

Victims who are being physically abused by violent acts may have frequent injuries and bruises [12]

Signs of abusive behavior could include:

  • Black eyes
  • Bruises on the arms, limbs, or neck
  • Sprained wrists
  • Broken bones
  • Unexplained pain

Victims of acts of violence and who are being physically abused might seem like they are not telling the truth about what happened to them. 

2. Emotional Signs Of Domestic Abuse

If someone is in a domestic violence situation, you might notice changes in their behavior.

Examples of emotionally abusive behavior are:

  • A woman with a headacheIncreased levels of anxiety
  • Increased levels of irritability and anger
  • Feeling bad about yourself
  • Showing signs of fear, such as flinching at sudden movements or sounds
  • Depression and fatigue
  • Increased crying
  • You might feel like you’re not feeling anything at all or that you’re feeling really sad
  • Suicidal tendencies

3. Behavioral Signs Of Domestic Abuse

Since the person was abused, their behavior might change. This could include different ways of reacting to things or changing the way they speak.

  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Change in appetite
  • Using substances, such as drugs and alcohol
  • Isolating themselves and withdrawing
  • Avoiding things they usually like to do

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FAQs

Is domestic abuse the same as domestic violence?

No, domestic abuse is not the same as domestic violence. Abuse is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical violence, emotional, financial, or sexual assault. Violence is a single act of force that may or may not result in injury.

What should you do if you know someone who is being abused?

If you know someone who is being abused, you should tell them that abuse is never okay and offer your support. If they are in immediate danger, you should call 911. You can also help by connecting them with local domestic violence or domestic abuse shelter resources.

What are the harmful effects of domestic violence?

The harmful effects of domestic violence can include physical injuries, emotional trauma, and economic insecurity. Domestic violence can also lead to homelessness, job loss, and poverty. In extreme cases, domestic violence can result in death.

What to Do If You Are Facing Domestic Violence or Abuse Charges

If you are facing or are involved in domestic violence or domestic abuse charges, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible. An experienced domestic violence lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong defense.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence, you should contact Schmidt & Clark law firm for a free consultation. Through our services, you might be able to get money by filing a domestic violence or assault lawsuit.


References:

1. https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/domestic-violence-domestic-abuse-definitions-and-relationships.aspx

2. https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/domestic-violence-domestic-abuse-definitions-and-relationships.aspx

3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/domestic_violence

4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence/art-20048397

5. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women

6. https://www.thehotline.org/stakeholders/domestic-violence-statistics/

7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence/art-20048397

8. https://psychcentral.com/health/sexual-abuse

9. https://psychcentral.com/blog/signs-of-emotional-abuse 

10. https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/domestic-violence-domestic-abuse-definitions-and-relationships.aspx

11. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-domestic-abuse-signs

12. https://www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/home-and-community-services/types-and-signs-abuse

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