What is Domestic Violence?



Domestic abuse, domestic violence, dating violence, or intimate partner violence are all terms to describe a systematic pattern of behaviors that one person uses to dominate and maintain control over an intimate partner. Abusers exert power over their partners through emotional and physical abuse, threats, intimidation, financial restriction, isolation, and other coercive or violent means. Family violence/abuse is any physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse of family or household members, including children. 

Military definition of domestic violence: An offense under the United States Code of Military Justice or state law involving the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against, or a violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of, a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common, or a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.


In 2016, there were more than 62,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state of Virginia. A total of 3,150 adults and 2,582 children received 191,759 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 1,987 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space. A total of 55,911 emergency protective orders were issued by magistrates and judges across the Commonwealth to protect the immediate health and safety of victims and their family members.

Intimate Partner Violence Victimization 

• More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 

• Among victims of intimate partner violence, more than 1 in 3 women experienced multiple forms of rape, stalking, or physical violence; 92.1% of male victims experienced physical violence alone, and 6.3% experienced physical violence and stalking. 

• Nearly 1 in 10 women in the United States (9.4%) has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime, and an estimated 16.9% of women and 8.0% of men have experienced sexual violence other than rape by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. 

• About 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) at some point in their lifetime. 

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In 2010, the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborated for the first time to include two random samples from the military in the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). The NISVS found with few exceptions, that past year and lifetime prevalence (occurrence) of IPV, sexual violence, and stalking in the civilian and military populations are quite similar, with no statistically significant differences.