Domestic violence is often thought of as bruises and black eyes.
The difficult truth, though, is that domestic violence is much more complicated. The definition of domestic violence that we use at SafeHouse Denver is "a pattern of abusive behaviors used with the intention to maintain power and control over a past or present intimate partner." This definition includes a few very distinct and important factors:
- Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors. Domestic violence is often thought of or portrayed as a single act; but we define DV as the long-term pattern of many behaviors over time.
- Our definition does not mention specific behaviors, because any behavior could be used by a perpetrator to maintain power. For example, a seemingly simple act of receiving flowers at your workplace might not indicate domestic violence. But if the survivor was attempting to keep their workplace location a secret from their partner, and the abusive partner sent flowers to show that they now knew that location, that would be a clear behavior used to maintain power and control.
- While abuse can and does happen within families, we focus specifically on abuse between past or present intimate partners. Just because a relationship has ended does not mean that the abusive behavior has ended.
Domestic violence can and often does include one or more of the following behaviors:
- Physical (pushing, hitting, strangulation)
- Emotional (name-calling, gaslighting, extreme jealousy)
- Sexual (forcing sexual activity, not respecting sexual boundaries, tampering with birth control)
- Economic (being forbidden from working, sabotaging employment, controlling family financials)