According to Wikipedia Domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other. The term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) is often used synonymously, other terms have included "wife beating", "wife battering", "relationship violence", "domestic abuse", "spousal abuse", and "family violence" with some legal jurisdictions having specific definitions.
Recent attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands, and has remained a major focus of modern feminism, particularly in terms of "violence against women".
Estimates are that only about a third of cases of domestic violence are actually reported in the US and UK. In other places where there has been less attention and less support, reported cases would be still lower.
Domestic violence occurs in all cultures, people of all races, ethnicities, and religions can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women, and occurs in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.
Awareness and documentation of domestic violence differs from country to country. According to the Centers for Disease Control domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 32 million Americans, that is more than 10% of the U.S. population (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000).
Domestic violence has many forms, including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence. There are a number of dimensions:
- mode - physical, psychological, sexual and/or social
- frequency - one off, occasional, chronic
- severity – in terms of both psychological or physical harm and the need for treatment – transitory or permanent injury – mild, moderate, severe up to homicide
Popular emphasis has tended to be on women as the victims of domestic violence although with the rise of the men's movement, and particularly men's rights, there is now some advocacy for men as victims, although the statistics concerning the number of male victims given by them are strongly contested by many groups active in research on or working in the field of domestic violence.
The means used to measure domestic violence strongly influence the results found, for example, studies of reported domestic violence and extrapolations of those studies show women preponderantly as victims and men to be more violent, whereas the survey based Conflict Tactics Scale, tends to show men and women equally violent.
The majority of studies investigated male on female domestic violence, thus information on female-on-male (or female-on-female) violence tends to be less available.