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What Is Domestic Violence?

The primary purpose of domestic violence is to gain, sustain or reclaim control over a spouse or intimate partner.

Domestic violence is the threat or use of physical, sexual, emotional and/or economic abuse against a current or former spouse, intimate partner, or household member. It includes assaults, exploitation, property destruction, theft, false imprisonment, isolation, stalking, sexual coercion, arson, sleep disruption, ridicule and threats of homicide or suicide. It may also include interference with work, worship, education, healthcare, recreation and family. It often involves surveillance of the abused partner. It produces terror.

What Is Psychological background of Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is intentional. It is not a loss of control. It is not driven by impulse or emotional outburst. It is exactly the opposite. Domestic violence is behavior designed to gain control and instill fear in victims. Most batterers create rules to bolster their control over partners. They carefully enforce those rules and the punishment for breaking them often includes violence. Abusers do not abuse all of the time. They often merely refer to past acts of violence and promise to repeat the violence, if partners do not comply with their rules and directives.

Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be physical or emotional. It can include slapping, punching, beating, kicking, or threats to hurt you. It can include forcing you to have sex or keeping you from any of the family’s finances. Violence behavior towards anyone is wrong no matter who does it. It is not okay for family members to hurt you. Sometimes this type of behavior is against the law.

What is Domestic Violence Under British Columbia Law?

Physical Abuse Under the Law

The legal definition of domestic violence in British Columbia includes kicking, beating, grabbing, using a weapon against you (like a knife, gun, or hammer), slapping, hitting, pushing, shoving, pulling your hair, throwing you (on the floor, down stairs, etc.) or throwing something at you or near you in order to scare you.

Physical Abuse may also be:

  • Forced sex
    Destruction of your possession to make you believe you might get physically hurt (like ripping your clothes or destroying you personal items; and Threatening behavior. For example, if someone lets you know that if you get up from a chair or leave a room, you will be hurt physically.

Emotional Abuse Under the Law

The legal definition of domestic violence also includes placing someone in fear of imminent serious bodily harm by threat of force. This may include threats of violence and statements like “I will hit you”, “If you leave, I will hurt you,” or “If you tell anyone, I will kill you.” Domestic violence does not include threats to take custody of the children or leave the home.

Child Abuse Under the Law

The legal definition of domestic violence also includes violence against children, such as actions that cause marks or bruises on children. Domestic violence may also include sexual abuse of children, such a fondling or rape as domestic violence. The abused children need not be the children of the abuser in order for you to file a child abuse complaint.


BC Institute on Family Violence (604)669-7055
BC Yukon Society of Transition Houses (604)669-6943
Vancouver Multicultural Society (604)731-4648
Multiculturalism BC (604)660-2204
Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services (604)660-9829
SUCCESS (604)408-7233
Vancouver School Board (Continuing/Adult Education)
Vancouver RCMP (604)717-3535
PIRS (Pacific Immigrant Resources Society) (604)298-5888
Victim Services-Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
St. Paul's Hospital (Providence Health Care) (604)806-8022
Ending Violence Association of B.C. EVA (604)633-2506