What is domestic violence?

The law defines domestic violence as certain kinds of abuse directed toward a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, or a person with whom the abuser has had a "dating or engagement relationship" or with whom the abuser has had a child, or a person related to the abuser by blood or marriage.  It is a type of violence that cuts across all cultures, ethnic backgrounds, education levels, and income brackets.  It impacts homosexuals as often as heterosexuals.  It occurs among teenagers as well as senior citizens, and men as well as women.

Domestic violence is behavior driven by need to control.  It can range from threats, annoying telephone calls and stalking (such as following the victim to and from work, and threatening the victim), to unwanted sexual touching and hitting.  It can also be defined as one spouse destroying the other's personal property.