Domestic and Family Violence

The U. S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, and hair pulling are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited, to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.

Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.

Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include, but are not limited to, causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

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  • Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.
  • Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
  • Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.
  • Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. These behaviors include physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, and electronic abuse.
  • In Connecticut, it is illegal for someone to physically assault, stalk, or threaten you even if that person is a member of your family or household, or is someone you have dated.
  • Connecticut defines family or household member to include any of the following persons, regardless of their age:
    • Spouse or former spouse
    • Parents or their children
    • Persons related by blood or marriage
    • Persons other than those related by blood or marriage but who presently reside together or have resided together (e.g., roommates)
    • Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever been married or lived together
    • Persons who are currently in or who have recently been in a dating relationship

C.G.S. § 46b-38a – Family violence prevention and response states that “Family violence means an incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or an act of threatened violence that constitutes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, including, but not limited to, stalking or a pattern of threatening, between family or household members. Verbal abuse or argument shall not constitute family violence unless there is present danger and the likelihood that physical violence will occur.”

Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and