Domestic Violence (DV) is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. This set of California laws, (Family Code Sections 6200 – 6209) applies to Married or registered domestic partners, Divorced or separated, Dating or used to date, Living together or used to live together (but more than just roommates), OR Closely related (like parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).

DV can be physical, sexual, emotional. economic, psychological, or technological actions or threats of actions or other patterns of coercive behavior that influences another person within an intimate partner relationship. It can be behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone. Examples of abusive behavior include:

Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. It includes, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual;s sense of self-worth and/or self esteem is abusive. This includes constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.

Economic Abuse: Controlling or restraining a person’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain economic resources to which they are entitled. This includes using coercion, fraud, or manipulation to restrict a person’s access to money, assets, credit, financial information; unfairly using a person’s personal economic resources, including money, assets, and credit, or exerting undue influence over a person’s financial and economic behavior and decisions, including forcing default on joint or other financial obligations, exploiting powers of attorney, guardianship, or conservatorship, or failing or neglecting to act in the best interests of a person to whom one has a fiduciary duty.

Psychological Abuse: This includes, causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

Technological Abuse: An act or pattern of behavior that is intended to harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, impersonate, exploit, extort, or monitor another person that occurs using any form of technology, including but not limited to: internet enabled devices, online spaces and platforms, computers, mobile devices, cameras and imaging programs, apps, location tracking devices, or communication technologies , or any other emerging technologies.

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that it is a normal way of life – therefore increasing the risk of becoming society’s next generation of victims and abusers.

Keep in mind that abuse and domestic violence do not have to be only physical; it can be verbal, emotional, or psychological. Some examples are:

  • Jealousy of a partner’s time with co-workers, friends and family.
  • Controlling behavior (closely monitors a person’s comings and goings and/or money, and insists on “helping” a person make personal decisions)
  • Isolation (cuts a person off from all supportive resources such as friends, co-workers and close family members).
  • Blames others for his or her problems (unemployment, quarrels – everything is “your fault”)
  • “Playful” uses of force in sex (may throw a person down and hold him or her during sex, may start having sex with a person when he or she is sleeping, or demand sex when a person is ill or tired.
  • Verbal abuse (says cruel and hurtful things and degrades or humiliates a person).
  • Being afraid of your partner
  • Constantly watching what you say to avoid a “blow up”.
  • Feelings of low self-worth and helplessness about your relationship.
  • Being prevented from working, studying, going home, or using your phone.
  • Being forced or pressured to do anything you don’t want to do.

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