Domestic violence (closely related to domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence and intimate partner violence) is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic context, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Intimate partner violence is domestic violence against a spouse or other intimate partner.
Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death. Globally, a wife or female partner is more commonly the victim of domestic violence, though the victim can also be the male partner, or both partners may engage in abusive or violent behavior, or the victim may act in self-defense or retaliation.
Domestic violence often occurs because the perpetrator believes that abuse is justified and acceptable, and may produce inter-generational cycles of abuse that condone violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country. There may be a cycle of abuse during which tensions rise and an act of violence is committed, followed by a period of reconciliation and calm.
Victims of domestic violence may be trapped in domestic violent situations through isolation, power and control, insufficient financial resources, fear, shame or to protect children. As a result of abuse, victims may experience physical disabilities, chronic health problems, mental illness, limited finances, and poor ability to create healthy relationships. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Children who live in a household with violence may continue the legacy of abuse when they reach adulthood. Domestic violence often happens in the context of forced and child marriage.
Alcohol consumption and mental illness can be co-morbid with abuse, and present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence. Management of domestic violence may take place through medical services, law enforcement, counseling, and other forms of prevention and intervention.