There is often a dispute about what exactly is domestic violence. Many of us may skew the definition due to our upbringing, and debate what could be seen as violence against others. I'd like to share what the Federal gov't (USDOJ) defines as domestic violence, below:
We define 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, hair pulling, etc 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: Is defined as 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.
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.
Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life - therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.
Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and WomensLaw.org.
Below is what RAINN defines as sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in which submission to or rejection of such conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's work or school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or school environment.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
2 Types of Sexual Harassment:
1. Quid pro quo - When a perpetrator makes conditions of employment contingent on the victim providing sexual favors. This type of harassment is less common.
2. Hostile environment - When unwelcome, severe and persistent sexual conduct on the part of a perpetrator creates an uncomfortable and hostile environment (e.g., jokes, lewd postures, leering, inappropriate touching, rape, etc.). This type of harassment constitutes up to 95% of all sexual harassment cases.
Variety of Circumstances
•Survivor and harasser do not have to be of different genders; both can be men, both women, or they can be different genders.
•Similarly, as with sexual assault, women can be perpetrators.
•The harasser can be a supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
•The survivor does not have to be the person that is directly harassed. It can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
•Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the survivor.
•The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
Common Emotional and Physical Reactions
•Poor concentration at work
•Stress on personal relationships
•Alcohol or drug use
•Tarnished company reputation
•Increased payouts for sick leave and medical benefits
•Vulnerability to hostile confrontations
•Legal and consultant costs
Options for Action
•Say "No" clearly- Express in direct language (verbal or written) that behavior must stop.
•Document the harassment- Keep a written log, keep track of dates, times, and behavior.
•Get emotional support- Friends/family can be good outlets.
•Document your work- Keep copies of performance evaluations and memos that attest to the quality of your work.
•Explore company channels- Talk to a supervisor and/or contact the personnel officer or human resources department.
•File a complaint- If the problem can't be solved through company policy, you may choose to pursue a legal remedy.
Sexual Harassment in the Schools
Sexual harassment is not limited to offices and work arenas. Increasingly, sexual harassment is being displayed in our nation's schools.
It Can Take Milder Forms
•Graffiti on bathroom walls
•Comments about body parts
Or More Severe Forms
•Physical intrusion into personal space
•Brushed up against in a sexual way
•Consequently lower grades
Reference: This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
Have you ever experienced or witnessed domestic violence or sexual harassment? Ever seen mean get in a girl's face and intimidate her? Ever seen a guy grab a girl's breast and twist it "to make a point"? Ever seen a woman box a guy in so he cannot avoid her? Ever see a female CEO or partner in a law firm create a hostile work environment? All of these things are either domestic violence or sexual harassment. I strongly encourage everyone who reads my blog to read these definitions, symptoms and reactions... and remember them. And always speak up if you see them occurring. You might save someone's life.