Definitions of Abuse

What exactly is domestic abuse?


 “An abuse of power, manifested through selfishly motivated patterns of behavior intended to exercise or maintain control over one’s partner.” Chris Moles

For additional information please visit our resources page. 

“Domestic violence is a pattern of many behaviors directed at achieving and maintaining power and control over an intimate partner, such as physical violence, emotional abuse, isolation of the victim, economic abuse, intimidation, and coercion and threats.”

Laws on domestic violence vary from state to state, but nearly all include definitions that include nonphysical forms of abuse. For example, here in North Carolina it is defined as: 

  • A person commits domestic violence by doing one or more of the following acts against a person with whom the offender shares or shared a personal relationship, or against the minor child of such a person:

  • Attempting to or intentionally causing bodily injury;

  • Placing someone or a member of someone’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;

  • Committing a sexual offenses such as rape;

  • Placing someone in fear of continued harassment that is so bad it inflicts substantial emotional distress on the victim;

  • Conduct that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies a person.

In North Carolina victims of domestic violence are protected by both civil and criminal laws. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional or sexual or financial. Certain types of harassment or emotional abuse can happen through all types of communication, including written, telephone, fax, e-mail, or voicemail. (

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