Domestic disputes – Drawing the line


All of my blogs contain meaning for me, and many will relate to my own life. However I am aware that this IS the internet, and as such I do modify details to keep things private, so please do not draw too many conclusions from my topic choices.

All couples argue. Whether it’s a vegemite/marmite scenario, or a cheating spouse caught in the act, at some point there will be a tiff. So at what point does a row turn into abuse? Is it a matter of intensity, frequency, or publicity? Or a combination of all three?

I couldn’t find a short and snappy Australian definition of DV, so I gathered a couple of definitions from countries with similar societal values to ourselves, the UK and the USA.

  • The English Government defines domestic violence as:

“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”

via What Is Domestic Violence? | Definition.

  • The US Office on Violence Against Women defines domestic violence as:

A “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner”. The definition adds that domestic violence “can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender”, and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

via Domestic violence – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

These give a general gist quite well, though it’s interesting to see the difference in focus – The UK gives a more general definition, whilst the USA is fairly specific about the involvement of power in abuse. However, several things ring true across the Atlantic –

  • The forms can vary – physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse are all included.
  • It does not discriminate – race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender have no impact on whether the behaviour counts as abuse.
  • It occurs between intimate partners, or family.

While this gives us a solid base, the line is fairly hazy. We return to the original question; at what point does a row turn into abuse? Is it a matter of intensity, frequency, or publicity?

Some example situations could be,

Partner 1 and Partner 2 have an arguement over a unknown credit card restuarant  bill. Partner 1 slaps Partner 2 across the face and accuses him of cheating. This has never happened before, over the 2 year relationship. Abuse?

Partner 3 and Partner 4 argue a lot, over many little things. Unwashed dishes, folding the clothes, changing the baby’s nappy. The arguements are usually instigated by Patner 3, with Partner 4 retaliating without holding back. It gets to the point where Partner 4 no longer feels welcome in the house due to the imminent arguements, and becomes depressed. Abuse?

Partner 5 and Partner 6 bicker whilst at home, yet stop when in public. After a few months of increasingly heated arguements, Partner 5 begins to crack jokes and make lewd comments at Partner 6′s expense whilst among friends. Partner 6 expresses her dislike of these comments, yet it continues, and she loses her self confidence. Abuse?

I could name myriads of theoretical situations where the term “abuse” might be deemed to serious, but is it? Should there be a zero tolerance of domestic violence, or should situations such as Partner 1 and 2 “not count”? Should one partner cause recordable damage (of whatever form) before it is classed as abuse, or should situations such as Partner 3 and 4 “not count” either? Does the audience make a difference, or would comments made such as with Partners 5 and 6 “not count” if they were made privately?

Leave your thoughts below, I’d be very interested to see what you think on this topic. Where do we realistically draw the line? And why?

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