KY: Domestic ViolencePage 5 of 17

3. Types of Intimate Partner Violence

According to Kentucky law (KRS 403.720):

Domestic violence and abuse means physical injury, serious physical injury, stalking, sexual abuse, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, or assault between family members or members of an unmarried couple.

Family member means a spouse, including a former spouse, a grandparent, a parent, a child, a stepchild, or any other person living in the same household as the child if the child is the alleged victim.

Member of an unmarried couple means each member of an unmarried couple which allegedly has a child in common, any children of that couple, or a member of an unmarried couple who are living together or have formerly lived together.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four types of intimate partner violence—physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression. Information about the important revisions in definition can be found in the CDC’s Intimate Partner Violence Surveillance: Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements, Version 2.0, which was published in 2015. The CDC strongly advocates for coherent and uniform definitions to improve the collection and analysis of data and help to identify trends and make comparisons (CDC, 2015).

Physical Violence

Physical violence is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Scratching, pushing, or shoving
  • Throwing, grabbing, or biting
  • Choking, shaking, aggressive hair pulling, slapping, punching, hitting or burning
  • Use of a weapon
  • Use of restraints or one’s body, size, or strength against another person
  • Physical violence also includes coercing other people to commit any of the above acts. (CDC, 2016)

Research has shown that physical violence is often accompanied by psychological abuse and, in one-third to one-half of cases, by sexual abuse (Heise & Garcia-Moreno, 2002). The violence is usually not limited to one instance. The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner averaged 6.9 physical assaults by the same partner, while men who were assaulted averaged 4.4 assaults.

Women experience more chronic and injurious physical assaults at the hands of intimate partners than do men. The NVAWS found that more than 40% of women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner were injured during their most recent assault, compared with about 20% of the men. Most injuries, such as scratches, bruises, and welts, were minor. More severe physical injuries may occur depending on severity and frequency of abuse. Physical violence can lead to death (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is divided into five categories, any of which constitute sexual violence, whether attempted or completed. Additionally, all of these acts occur without the victim’s consent, including cases in which the victim is unable to consent due to being too intoxicated (eg, incapacitation, lack of consciousness, or lack of awareness) through their voluntary or involuntary use of alcohol or drugs (CDC, 2016).

  • Rape or penetration of victim. This includes completed or attempted, forced or alcohol/drug-facilitated unwanted vaginal, oral, or anal insertion. Forced penetration occurs through the perpetrator’s use of physical force against the victim or threats to physically harm the victim.
  • Victim was made to penetrate someone else. This includes completed or attempted, forced or alcohol/drug-facilitated incidents when the victim was made to sexually penetrate a perpetrator or someone else without the victim’s consent.
  • Non-physically pressured unwanted penetration. This includes incidents in which the victim was pressured verbally or through intimidation or misuse of authority to consent or acquiesce to being penetrated.
  • Unwanted sexual contact. This includes intentional touching of the victim or making the victim touch the perpetrator, either directly or through the clothing, on the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks without the victim’s consent
  • Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences. This includes unwanted sexual events that are not of a physical nature that occur without the victim’s consent. Examples include unwanted exposure to sexual situations (eg, pornography); verbal or behavioral sexual harassment; threats of sexual violence to accomplish some other end; and /or unwanted filming, taking or disseminating photographs of a sexual nature of another person (CDC, 2016).

Sexual and physical abuse is often accompanied by controlling behaviors. In a World Health Organization survey of more than 24,000 women in ten countries, the percentage of those who had experienced one or more of the following controlling behaviors ranged from 20% in Japan to 90% in urban United Republic of Tanzania:

  • Keeping her from seeing friends
  • Restricting contact with her family of birth
  • Insisting on knowing where she is at all times
  • Ignoring or treating her indifferently
  • Getting angry if she speaks with other men
  • Often accusing her of being unfaithful
  • Controlling her access to healthcare (WHO, 2005)

Stalking and Cyberstalking

Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted, attention and contact that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone else (eg, family member or friend). Some examples include repeated, unwanted phone calls, emails, or texts; leaving cards, letters, flowers, or other items when the victim does not want them; watching or following from a distance; spying; approaching or showing up in places when the victim does not want to see them; sneaking into the victim’s home or car; damaging the victim’s personal property; harming or threatening the victim’s pet; and making threats to physically harm the victim (CDC, 2016).

In the United States 7.5 million people are stalked in one year, with 85% of the victims being stalked by someone they know. Sixty-one percent of female victims and 44% of male victims are stalked by an intimate partner. Among women who have been murdered, 76% were stalked by their intimate partner and 67% had been abused by them. Stalking victims may become fearful and anxious, and their physical and mental health can suffer as a result (National Center for Victims of Crimes, 2012).

Today, stalkers have at their fingertips a wide array of computers and equipment including the Internet, global positioning systems, cell phones, and tiny digital cameras. In many states, general stalking statues have not kept up with these new technologies. However, changes in the law in 2009 made cyberstalking a crime in Kentucky (KRS 508.130–150). Additional information for identifying and dealing with cyberstalking is available from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office and at this link.

Psychological Aggression

Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and nonverbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally, and/or to exert control over another person. Psychological aggression can include:

  • Expressive aggression (eg, name-calling, humiliating)
  • Coercive control (eg, limiting access to transportation, money, friends, and family; excessive monitoring of whereabouts)
  • Threats of physical or sexual violence; control of reproductive or sexual health (eg, refusal to use birth control; coerced pregnancy termination)
  • Exploitation of victim’s vulnerability (eg, immigration status, disability)
  • Exploitation of perpetrator’s vulnerability
  • Presenting false information to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory or perception (eg, mind games) (CDC, 2016).

Coercive control and intimidation by the abusive partner is considered an underlying component of all of these types of violence. The abusive partner’s ability to control relies on the abused person’s belief that if she or he does not comply with the abusive partner’s demands, the victim, the victim’s children, or other persons or things the victim cares about will be harmed. Often, threats are alternated with acts of kindness from the perpetrator, making it difficult for the victim to break free of the cycle of violence.

The ten-country World Health Organization survey and other research has consistently shown that emotional abuse can have a more profound and negative effect than physical violence. Between 20% and 75% of women across all the countries surveyed reported being the recipient of emotional abuse within the previous 12 months (WHO, 2005).

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