Defining domestic violence

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What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence occurs in romantic relationships, whether current or past, and regardless of their duration. It can occur during dating, in a marriage or civil union, between common-law partners or in any other intimate relationship between people of the same or opposite sex. This type of violence can occur at any age and in all spheres of society. Domestic violence is more than acts of physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, social, spiritual and/or economic abuse. In fact, when an intimate relationship between partners is marked by a dynamic of control by the perpetrator of violence over a woman and her children, this is what we call coercive control. It takes the form of different strategies that enable the dominator to keep control over their victims. These strategies fall into three broad categories:

Deprivation of rights and freedoms

Here, strategies of abuse are reflected in women’s daily lives as a loss of autonomy and a deprivation of the rights and resources necessary for women to be full-fledged citizens.

Daily micro-regulation and monitoring

Here, strategies of abuse are reflected in women’s daily lives as control over all aspects of their lives, mainly associated with stereotypes regarding female roles, such as their clothing, cooking, cleaning, relationships with others, child care and sexuality.

Manifestation of direct or indirect violence

This category includes the most common forms of violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, spiritual, social, and economic abuse.

Domestic violence is part of a dynamic of domination in which the perpetrator seeks to gain power over their partner. It is therefore much more than a communication problem or a “couple’s quarrel,” as it is often portrayed in society.

Here are the differences between the two concepts:

Couple's quarrel

I am able to express my point of view.

I am able to argue and put forward my ideas.

I’m not afraid of my partner.

I’m free in my words and actions.

The issue is the topic of discussion.

The person who starts the quarrel has nothing to hide. They can drop it more easily and apologize if they have gone too far.

Domestic violence

I'm afraid of the consequences if I express my point of view.

I’m often afraid of my partner’s reaction.

I feel that no matter how hard I try, my partner always explodes. I live in an atmosphere of tension every day.

I feel belittled, ashamed and have low self-esteem.

My partner always has a good excuse for their behavior: I provoked them, they’re tired, they’re stressed about their job, etc.

My partner tries to control me.

Cycle Of Violence

These episodes of violence form part of a cycle with four distinct phases. This cycle is repeated over time, occurring more frequently. This cycle enables the violent partner to maintain domination over the victim.


Excessive anger, oppressive silence, intimidation, threatening looks

Effects on me: I feel like things might turn bad. I’m worried. I'm spending a lot of energy trying to alleviate the tension. I’m scared. I’m frozen. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.


Does anything to be forgiven, asks for help, talks about therapy or suicide…

Effects on me: I see he’s making an effort to change. I’ll give him another chance. I can help him. I’ve found the one that I love. I can change my attitude.
cycle de la violence


Verbal, psychological, physical, sexual or economic

Effects on me: Anger and shame: I’m humiliated. I’m sad. I feel it’s not fair.


Finds excuses, explains why there was an outburst: the reasons are beyond his control

Effects on me: I will believe and understand his justification, if I could just help him change. I will change for him. I doubt my perceptions (is this really assault?). I feel responsible and my anger disappears

Different forms of violence


1. Spit in the face.

2. Throwing, breaking valuables, slamming a door.

3 .Hitting a pet with the aim of harming us.

4. Slap, pinch and shake.

5. Tighten the arm.

6. Biting, pushing and grabbing.

7. Kicking, hitting.

8. Sequester (enclose).

9. Threatening with a weapon.

10. To strangle.

1. Forcing the other into oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.

2. Being violent during sex.

3. Forcing the other to participate in sexual activities in a group, with another person, in front of the partner or under the eyes of children.

4. Forcing the other to suffer or perform unwanted sexual touching.

5. Making degrading sexual comments.

6. Forcing the other to appear in or watch pornographic images.

7. Forcing the other into prostitution.

8. Using sex to obtain proof of fidelity.

9. Deprive the other of affection.



1. Social isolation.

2. Devaluation of the other or of his perception of reality.

3. Using different forms of implicit or explicit threats: abducting or killing children, committing suicide, making false accusations, etc.

4. Using mental cruelty: sulking, indifference, silence, blackmail, etc.

1. Insult using degrading language.

2. Raise your voice, yell.

3. Blame and reproach the actions of a person.

4. Criticize and use sarcasm in order to humiliate the other.

5. Threatening directly or indirectly.

6. Give orders.



1. Forbid working or studying.

2. Control the budget by entering all or part of your income.

3. Deprivation of identity cards, passports, etc.

4. Failing to fairly share the family budget and/or refusing to spend money on special occasions.

5. Control expenses for essential needs: clothing, food, expenses necessary for the well-being of children, etc.

1. Control your comings and goings.

2. Isolates you.

3. Is jealous and possessive.

4. Critique your friends and family.

5. Spy on your phone or email conversations.



1. Forbid attending a place of worship.

2. Criticizing or ridiculing your religious beliefs.

3. Forced to adhere to religious practices that are not your own.

How domestic violence impacts women

Among women living with violence
Cognitive and psychological Physical Social and behavioral
High tolerance of violence
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Suicidal ideation
Comprehension challenges
Memory loss
Difficulty concentrating
Low self-esteem
Feelings of guilt, shame, empowerment, humiliation, anger
Sleep disorders
Anxiety disorders
Panic attacks
Eating disorders
Other symptoms
Physical injury
Partial or total disability
Head trauma
Chronic pain
Headaches, stomach aches
Gastrointestinal disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome
Loss of appetite
Other symptoms
Difficulty asserting yourself
Decreased social and family support
Poor social skills
Social anxiety
Substance abuse
Job loss or absenteeism
Moving or relocation
Loss of credibility
Issues with institutions (DPJ, social assistance, judicial, etc.)
Other symptoms
Among children living with violence
Cognitive and psychological Physical Social and behavioral
Learning, language or motor problems
Difficulty concentrating
Lower academic performance
helplessness and distrust
Low self-esteem, withdrawal
Somatization: gastritis, bronchitis, asthma and eczema
Stress and anxiety
Conflicting loyalties
High maturity
Feelings of exaggerated fear, abandonment, shame, guilt
Post-traumatic stress disorder

Visual and auditory difficulties
Speech difficulties
Appetite problems
Negligent dress, uncleanliness
Allergies (weak immune system)
Physical injuries (scratches, bites, bruises, fractures, burns, etc.)

Hyperactivity, irritability, aggression
Severe behavior disorder
Running away
Difficulty finding appropriate solutions to conflicts
Regression of behaviors
Fear of bringing friends home
Seductive, manipulative, oppositional behavior
Lack of respect for women
Cruelty to animals
Suicide attempts or suicidal ideation