Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behaviors designed to have power and control over another individual in an intimate relationship. According to the legal system (RCW 9A), domestic violence is defined as including, but not limited to, any of the following crimes when committed by one family or household member against another:
Assault, Reckless Endangerment, Coercion, Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Malicious Mischief, Kidnapping, Unlawful Imprisonment, Stalking, Violation of a Restraining Order, Restraining the Person or Excluding the Person From Residence, Violation of a Protection Order, Violation of a No-Contact Order, Rape, or Interfering with the Reporting of Domestic Violence.
Not all acts of domestic violence are included in the legal definition of domestic violence.
Northwest Family Life teaches that domestic violence exists in seven forms:
1. Psychological Abuse
2. Economic Abuse
4. Sexual Abuse
5. Physical Abuse
6. Legal Abuse
7. Religious Abuse
Examples of these forms of behavior include: controlling tactics, isolation, threats of violence, using force during an argument or sex, blaming others for one’s own problems and feelings, using children to gain power or control in a situation, erratic jealousy, misusing scripture to gain control and power, exercising a dual personality that creates fear and uncertainty…and the list goes on.
These forms of abuse are learned behaviors and intentional actions that can be changed. Domestic violence is not caused by the victim’s behavior. It is a direct result of the choices that a batterer is making. Violence is a choice, and it can be changed with the desire to do so and with the assistance of skilled professionals.
Because domestic violence is a learned behavior, children are especially vulnerable to establishing the pattern of domestic violence in their own lives. Both boys and girls will learn the behavior patterns of their parents. While all children vow that they will not repeat the harmful patterns of their parents, the reality is that most children do in fact become reflections of their parents without some form of intervention. Providing children with therapeutic intervention will decrease the likelihood that boys will become men who batter, and girls will become women who allow the pattern to become established in their relationships.
Therapeutic assistance is highly valuable as an avenue for children who are raised in abusive homes to deal with an array of intense and confusing emotions. In addition to dealing with the expected demands of daily life, children raised in abusive homes experience depression, frustration, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, helplessness, self-blame, guilt, sadness, and grief. Furthermore, they are prone to developing difficulties with developing trust, self-confidence, positive self-images, and healthy means of expressing emotions.
Domestic violence impacts an entire family. Not only does the abuser need to receive intervention and treatment, the victims of abuse need to seek support and counseling as well. In order to meet the needs of a family that is dealing with domestic violence, we suggest that you contact agencies in your area that specialize in domestic violence. If you are located in the greater Seattle area, Northwest Family Life has programs that are designed to meet the needs of the abuser, the abused, and the children affected.
Portions of this informational page were copied from the King County Council’s Domestic and Dating Violence Information and Resource Handbook and used with the permission of the King County Prosecutor’s Office in Seattle, Washington.