Important Definitions

Intimate Partner Violence (also called domestic abuse)

  • “…behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.” (World Health Organization)
  • “…physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • “…a pattern of assaultive behavior and coercive behavior […] perpetrated by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent, and is aimed at establishing control of one partner over the other.” (Family Violence Prevention Fund)

Note that all of these definitions include both physical and psychological harm. Abuse is not always physical, and injuries are not always visible. In fact, victims themselves may not be able to recognize the wounds they have sustained.

Intimate Partner (according to the CDC)

  • “…a person with whom one has a close personal relationship that may be characterized by the partners’ emotional connectedness, regular contact, ongoing physical contact and sexual behavior, identity as a couple, and familiarity and knowledge about each other’s lives. The relationship need not involve all of these dimensions.”
  • “Intimate partner relationships include current or former:
    • spouses (married spouses, common-law spouses, civil union spouses, domestic partners)
    • boyfriends/girlfriends
    • dating partners
    • ongoing sexual partners”

See more details here

Types of Intimate Partner Violence


  • “…the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm.”
    • “Physical violence includes, but is not limited to, scratching; pushing; shoving; throwing; grabbing; biting; choking; shaking; aggressive hair pulling; slapping; punching; hitting; burning; use of a weapon; and use of restraints or one’s body, size, or strength against another person. Physical violence also includes coercing other people to commit any of the above acts.” (CDC)
  • “Non-accidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment.”
    • “This includes, but is not limited to, being slapped, burned, cut, bruised, or improperly physically restrained.” (New York State OCFS)


  • “Any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”
  • “Willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, intimidation or other abusive conduct.” (New York State OCFS)
  • “Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally, and/or to exert control over another person.”
    • “expressive aggression (e.g., name-calling, humiliating)
    • coercive control (e.g., limiting access to transportation, money, friends, and family; excessive monitoring of whereabouts)
    • threats of physical or sexual violence; control of reproductive or sexual health (e.g., refusal to use birth control; coerced pregnancy termination)
    • exploitation of victim’s vulnerability (e.g., immigration status, disability)
    • exploitation of perpetrator’s vulnerability
    • presenting false information to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory or perception (e.g., mind games).” (CDC)


  • “Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind. This includes, but is not limited to, forcing sexual contact with self or forcing sexual contact with another person.” (New York State OCFS)
  • “…any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting…” (WHO)
  •  The CDC divides sexual violence into five categories. “Any of these acts constitute sexual violence, whether attempted or completed. Additionally all of these acts occur without the victim’s freely given consent, including cases in which the victim is unable to consent due to being too intoxicated (e.g., incapacitation, lack of consciousness, or lack of awareness) through their voluntary or involuntary use of alcohol or drugs.”
    • Rape or penetration of victim
    • Victim was made to penetrate someone else
    • Non-physically pressured unwanted penetration
    • Unwanted sexual contact
    • Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences

See explanations and examples here



  • “Financial abuse happens when an abuser takes control of finances to prevent the other person from leaving and to maintain power in a relationship.
    • An abuser may take control of all the money, withhold it, and conceal financial information from the victim. Financial abuse happens often in physically abusive relationships.” (Women’s Health)
    • “…maintaining control over financial resources, withholding access to money, or attempting to prevent a victim or survivor from working and/or attending school in an effort to create financial dependence as a means of control.” (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)


%d bloggers like this: