Domestic violence is any act of violence, whether between actual or former spouses, existing or former partners in an unregistered relationship, first-degree relatives (children and parents), second-degree relatives (grandchildren, grandparents, sisters and brothers), and whether the perpetrator shares or has shared a common (single) household with the victim. There are three forms of domestic violence which have been distinguished – battering, resistive violence and non-battering domestic violence. And there are four types of domestic violence – physical, emotional, sexual and economic violence.

Many people do not recognize some or all forms or types of domestic violence. Their understanding of what domestic violence is depends on their education, life experience, and the community in which they live. Victims of domestic violence commonly recognize just one part of the abusive relationship as violence. For example, they recognize physical violence, but do not consider verbal or psychological abuse to be violence.

A common understanding of domestic violence is very important for making the response of law enforcement institutions to domestic violence more effective and to raise awareness among the general public that any form or type of domestic violence is not acceptable and is unlawful. A clear message to the public from law enforcement institutions on a common understanding of domestic violence and its unlawfulness will encourage many victims to remove themselves from the violence and seek help.

About this section

This section of the Guide will explain the forms and types, as well as the possible consequences of domestic violence, further. 

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education