Domestic violence (also domestic abuse, spousal abuse, intimate partner violence, battering or family violence) is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person in a domestic context against another, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Intimate partner violence is violence by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include honor killings and dowry deaths.
Globally, a wife or female partner is more commonly the victim of domestic violence, though the victim can also be the male partner, or both partners may engage in abusive or violent behavior, or the victim may act in self-defense or retaliation. Whereas women in the developed world who experience domestic violence are often openly encouraged to report it to the authorities, it has been argued that domestic violence against men is most often unreported because of social pressure against such reporting, with those that do facing social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and other denigrations of their masculinity.
Domestic violence often occurs because the abuser believes that abuse is justified and acceptable, and may produce intergenerational cycles of abuse that condone violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country. There may be a cycle of abuse during which tensions rise and an act of violence is committed, followed by a period of reconciliation and calm. Victims of domestic violence may be trapped in domestic violent situations through isolation, power and control, insufficient financial resources, fear, shame or to protect children. As a result of abuse, victims may experience physical disabilities, chronic health problems, mental illness, limited finances, and poor ability to create healthy relationships. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Children who live in a household with violence show dysregulated aggression from an early age that may later contribute to continuing the legacy of abuse when they reach adulthood. Domestic violence often happens in the context of forced and child marriage.