What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is violence committed by someone in the victim’s domestic circle. This includes partners and ex-partners, immediate family members, other relatives and family friends.

The term ‘domestic violence’ is used when there is a close relationship between the offender and the victim. There is usually a power gap between them. The victim is dependent on the offender. Domestic violence can take the form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

Forms of domestic violence

The following are forms of domestic violence:

  • child abuse;
  • senior abuse;
  • honour-based violence such as honour killings, female genital mutilation (‘female circumcision’) and forced marriage;
  • all forms of abuse by an intimate partner or former intimate partner, including psychological abuse and stalking.

Victims of domestic violence

Women form the largest group of victims. However, men, children and elderly people can also be victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence occurs at all levels in society and in all population groups.

Abuse is usually deliberate, but not always. For example, sometimes people can no longer cope with caring for relatives. The situation can then escalate and result in abuse.