What is Domestic Abuse or Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence or abuse is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

Click here for a list of Warning Signs of an unhealthy relationship.


In Marin County,

  • One in three girls is a victim of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse by a dating partner.
  • 7% of victims receiving advocacy services from Center for Domestic Peace are men.
  • Domestic violence has been the number one violent crime for more than 20 years

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States, and Marin County is no exception. It affects people from every walk of life, including every socio-economic group, gender, religion, race, profession, and education level.  Beyond the person experiencing the abuse, it can impact the workplace, schools, places of worship, and stability in the home. Lost work hours, medical costs, law enforcement time, and emotional trauma all have a tremendous impact on society.

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.

  • Females ages 18 to 24 generally experience the highest rates of dating abuse/domestic violence.
  • 20,000 domestic violence hotlines calls are answered nationally each day.
  • 3 to 4 million children witness domestic violence every year.

Sources: The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Marin County Civil Grand Jury Report, (June 4, 2010), and other sources.

Domestic violence is a learned behavior and can be unlearned. Visit ManKind and WomanKind to learn about programs for people to end the violence in their relationships.

Learn about the 8 types of abuse by clicking here: PEEVSSSS.


Domestic violence is any abuse one person commits against another person who is their current or former spouse, current or former dating partner, co-parent of children, current or former co-habitant, or current or former fiancé (e).

The legal definition of abuse is: causing (or attempting to cause) bodily damage (intentionally or recklessly) or giving a believable impression that bodily damage will happen (including threats).  This means that if your partner has pushed you, hit you, raped you, or caused any injury, your partner has committed a crime. If your partner has made you think that he or she will injure you they have also committed a crime.  Vandalism, kidnapping, holding you against your will, and violating restraining orders are also illegal. Other types of abuse aren’t considered criminal but are still violent. These include verbal and emotional abuse, name- calling, financial abuse (restricting access to money, credit cards, etc.).

Link to FAQ about Domestic Violence