24-hour crisis line
435-753-2500
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Definitions of Abuse

Domestic Violence is defined generally as a pattern of physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse which is meant to control another person. Most often the people are intimate partners, but they may also be roommates, a boyfriend or girlfriend, an adult child who lives with his/her parents, or a parent who is abused by his/her adult children.

Many people have different views of the definition of domestic abuse. Most professionals have agreed that abuse can fall into eight different categories. Below lists more information about each category of abuse, and signs that may indicate abuse.

The term "domestic violence" implies that violence occurs in the home. Because of this implication many people, including the people directly involved, witnesses, and bystanders choose to ignore it or justify it as a private matter, believing that people can do what they desire within the privacy of their own homes. It is important for everyone to understand that domestic violence is not okay – it is a crime, and there are clear definitions of abuse in Utah's laws as well as clear punishment for the violation of those laws.

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by domestic violence, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources available to help you.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to:

  • Hitting
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Pulling hair
  • Strangling
  • Restraining
  • Throwing objects, and
  • Using a weapon against another person

This abuse may cause injuries that can range from bruises and broken bones to permanent disabilities and even death. It does not include self-defense against the aggressive behavior of another individual.

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by domestic violence, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources available to help you.

Sexual Abuse, Rape, and Sexual Assault

Many people believe that rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse only occur when someone is on a date, or when they are attacked by a stranger in a dark alley. It is rarely discussed when talking about marriage or domestic violence. However, it is very common in domestic violence relationships. Sexual abuse can include:

  • Forced sexual acts
  • Rape
  • Object rape
  • Sodomy
  • Unwanted use of pornography
  • Unwanted photographing or videotaping of sexual acts
  • Forced sexual interaction with others; or
  • Forced sexual acts with animals

Sexual violence is often used in conjunction with physical violence and always includes emotional abuse, like coercion and threats.

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by sexual abuse, rape, or sexual assault, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources available to help you.

Emotional/Verbal Abuse

Emotional abuse is different from physical abuse and sexual abuse because it does not result in physical injury or visible scars, bruises and cuts. However, it is a very traumatic form of abuse, and may cause deep emotional scars. Emotional abuse is cruel and degrading, and can include such behaviors as:

  • Name calling
  • Public humiliation
  • Continuous criticism
  • Insults
  • Trivializing someone's gender
  • Trivializing someone's activities/interests
  • Ordering
  • Isolation
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Belittlement
  • Ignoring
  • Withholding affection
  • "Silent treatment"
  • Lying

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by emotinal or verbal abuse, or know someone who has, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about option s and resources available to help you.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is intended to cause fear, terror, and confusion. Many people who have experienced psychological abuse have described it as " making me crazy " with things such as mind games and constantly redefining reality. Some examples of psychological abuse may include:

  • Changing his/her description of events even when you know that what the he/she is describing is not what truly happened.
  • Continually changing the " rules "– on Monday it is not okay to call your friend, but on Tuesday you are told he/she would never restrict you from calling your friend.
  • Continually placing you in situations where you will be"wrong" no matter which decision you make.
  • Wild and unpredictable mood swings, so you never know what to expect.
  • Psychological abuse can also include some dangerous and frightening behaviors such as:
  • Threats–specific threats to kill you, take the children, ruin you financially, have the you deported, report you to law enforcement or child protective services to have the children taken away, and many more.
  • Stalking
  • Pet abuse
  • Suicide threats

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by psychological abuse, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn aboutoptions and resources available to help you.

Stalking

Stalking is a form of psychological abuse that goes beyond simply "following someone around". Many stalkers will go to great lengths to track exactly where someone is, who s/he is seeing, and what s/he is doing. Stalkers are increasingly using advanced technology to track or videotape their victims, listen to telephone conversations, and/or hack into someone's computer to see what websites have been visited, e-mails being sent, and any other activity that is taking place on that computer.

People who are being stalked often feel violated, afraid, nervous, anxious, hyper-vigilant, and may also have nightmares or feel a total loss of control in their lives. They may take such action as changing their telephone number, altering their normal travel routes, routines and activities, changing employment or schools, or even moving to another city or state. They can also notify police and file a civil stalking injunction.

Stalking may also occur in cases of domestic violence, when a person is stalked by his/her abuser. People who are stalked by a current or former intimate partner are at increased risk of being killed by that person. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 76% of women killed by an intimate partner were stalked by the partner before they were killed. If you think you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by stalking, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources avilable to help you.

Neglect

Neglect is generally associated with children, but neglect can also happen with adults. Usually when there is neglect of an adult, it is an elderly or vulnerable adult who does not have the capacity to provide for his/her own needs, but it can also affect adults who are not vulnerable or elderly. Neglect can include some behaviors such as:

  • Withholding food
  • Withholding medication
  • Withholding medical equipment
  • Withholding medical treatments
  • Lack of proper hygiene assistance
  • Leaving an elderly or vulnerable adult alone for extended periods of time
  • Abandoning an elderly or vulnerable adult altogether
  • Administering much larger doses of medication than are required
  • Leaving someone for an extended period of time without food, water, suitable means of transportation, etc.

These forms of neglect can cause physical and emotional trauma to the victim, and can eventually lead to death in severe cases. If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by neglect, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources available to help you.

Financial Abuse & Exploitation

Financial abuse is a common method an abusive individual might use to make it more difficult for a person to be independent, which leaves the person with no choice but to stay in a relationship. Financial abuse and exploitation can take many forms, but the most common ones include:

  • Taking control of a person's income
  • Not allowing a spouse or partner to have a job
  • Purposely destroying a person's credit
  • Denying access to household funds

Financial exploitation goes beyond financial abuse because it involves not only taking control of another 's finances, but doing so by using a position of trust from an elder or vulnerable adult to gain access to and control over that person's money and/or assets.

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by financial abuse or exploitation, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources available to help you.

Property Damage

Although property damage is not always considered one of the main forms domestic violence, it is still common in domestic violence relationships. It can occur at any time, particularly when the abusive person is going through a violent episode, and may include such things as punching holes in the wall, throwing objects, and breaking things.

Property damage can also have a calculated, cruel aspect to it. For example, destruction of expensive or rare family heirlooms and precious personal belongings, damage to a vehicle that prevents the vehicle from being operated, or perhaps destruction of all a person's clothing by slashing or burning are examples of this type of abuse.

Finally, property damage can take a very extreme form, such as setting a person's home on fire, or disabling a vehicle to make it unsafe to operate and therefore very likely to be involved in an accident. All forms of property damage are intended to be physical reminders of the capabilities of the offender and serve the purpose of instilling fear in the victim and other family members, friends, and acquaintances.

If you or someone you know has experienced or been impacted by property damage related to domestic violence, call CAPSA to speak with a caseworker and learn about options and resources available to help you.