The relationship or marriage may be between people of opposite sex (a man and a woman), but it can also be among people of the same sex. There can also be children in the household.
Violence between adult partners of a relationship is the most common type of domestic violence. There are also violent acts of adults against children, of children against adults, and violence against elderly people.
The exact definitions of what is domestic violence vary by country. In general though, the legal definitions only include the acts, and their punishment. People from sociology and psychology also look at the motivations (why the person became violent).
The person becoming violent often wants to get more power and more control over another person. When the cycle of violence starts people are said to be losing their temper.
Most of the time, the victims of domestic violence are women. They may experience more severe forms of violence. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 1 in 3 of all women are subject to domestic violence at some point in their life. Women are also more likely than men to use intimate partner violence in self-defense.
Some countries do not have good laws covering domestic violence. In these countries domestic violence may be permitted, especially in the case where the woman is suspected of infidelity. There seems to be a correlation between the level of gender equality, and the level of domestic violence. Countries with less gender equality have higher rates of domestic violence.
Very often, incidents of domestic violence are not reported; this is true for both men and women. There is a social stigma: Most people believe that women are victims of domestic violence, most of the time. That way, healthcare providers often overlook men who are victims of domestic violence.
If we go back a century or two, we find that in some countries, children were often beaten, both at home and at school. Now that is much rarer, and may be forbidden in law. The key term to search for this topic is "corporal punishment".
There are different forms of domestic abuse, not all of which are violent:
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This is an issue that affects vast numbers of women throughout all nations of the world. ... Although there are cases in which men are the victims of domestic violence, nevertheless 'the available research suggests that domestic violence is overwhelmingly directed by men against women ... In addition, violence used by men against female partners tends to be much more severe than that used by women against men. Mullender and Morley state that 'Domestic violence against women is the most common form of family violence worldwide.'
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Intimate male partners are most often the main perpetrators of violence against women, a form of violence known as intimate partner violence, 'domestic' violence or 'spousal (or wife) abuse.' Intimate partner violence and sexual violence, whether by partners, acquaintances or strangers, are common worldwide and disproportionately affect women, although are not exclusive to them.
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