Domestic Violence Basics

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Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It may be sexual assault. It may be physical abuse. But, it does not have to be either. A victim can be controlled or terrorized by many different tactics like emotional abuse, economic abuse, physical abuse, and threats and intimidation. Read about Domestic Violence Acts and crimes.

Intimate Partner Relationships

An intimate relationship includes family or household members. But this definition also includes all kinds of close relationships. See Social Services Law Section 459-A. Domestic violence can be between:

  • people legally married or divorced
  • people with a child in common, including adopted children
  • people related by marriage, like in-laws
  • people related by blood, like brothers, parents, cousins
  • unrelated people who live, or have lived together for periods of time
  • unrelated people in, or were in an intimate relationship (current or former), like same-sex couples and teens who are dating

You can have an intimate partner relationship even if you don’t live with the abuser, even if the relationship is not sexual, and even if the relationship is over. Factors the court may consider when deciding if a relationship is an "intimate relationship" include:

  • the nature or type of relationship
  • how often you see, or saw each other
  • how long the relationship has gone on

A casual friend or co-worker is not an intimate relationship.

If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence, visit Getting Help for Domestic Violence

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