What is DV
Domestic Violence (DV) is defined by the UK Crown Prosecution Service as -
"a general term that describes a range of controlling and coercive behaviours, which are used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship. It is the cumulative and interlinked physical, psychological, sexual, emotional or financial abuse that has a particularly damaging effect on the victim."
The word 'domestic' implies behaviour within the home or family but the definition goes on to say that it also applies to former relationships.
The word 'violence' implies physically violent behaviour but the definition includes non-physical abusive behaviour - psychological, emotional and financial.
Other terms used for this type of behaviour are 'Domestic Abuse' (DA), 'Intimate Partner Violence' (IPV), and 'Intimate Partner Abuse' (IPA).
It is known that when men are physically violent to women they generally do much more damage than when women are violent to men. Its also known that women use weapons more frequently and this compensates for their lower relative strength.
What is less obvious is that women are given more leeway in using physical violence and are generally more skilled at using emotional and psychological abuse -
"Women are raised to avoid direct expressions of aggression. However they learn indirect methods of control, such as ostracism, gossip, and passive-aggressive behaviour. More importantly, society grants women considerably more leeway in the expression of physical violence against intimate partners than it does men." (Hamel, J. (2005). Gender Inclusive Treatment of Inter Partner Abuse. New York: Springer)
The term 'Domestic Violence' is misleading and unhelpful as it focuses attention principally on physical violence in the home which is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the abusive behaviour it seeks to describe. Both physical and emotional abuse can wreck the lives of victims. Neither should be minimised or excused. 'Domestic Violence' seems to be the term that for the moment we are stuck with in the UK.