Glossary

Abuse

Domestic violence encompasses a constellation of controlling behaviors that include: actual or threatened physical harm; psychological abuse; forced sexual contact; economic control; social isolation, destruction of a victim’s property, keepsakes or personal possessions; abuse of animals/pets; misuse of divine beings and religious beliefs, practices, teachings, and traditions; and asserting male superiority and attributing abusive behavior to cultural traditions.

Child Sexual Abuse

A physical violation of a child’s body through any sort of sexual contact, or a psychological violation of a child’s personal space through verbal or visual sexual behavior. It also includes the sexual exploitation of a child by an adult or a child or teen who has a developmental advantage over the victim.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (also known as spouse abuse, partner violence, intimate partner violence, battering, and numerous other terms) is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners. It can occur in the context of dating, family or household relationships. Domestic violence is a learned systematic behavior that uses physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse in order to exert and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. And it is against the law.

Economic Abuse

A pattern of mistreatment whereby one person exerts financial power and control over another, or uses economic means to frighten, intimidate, threaten, isolate, harass, humiliate, disempower, destabilize, or otherwise control another. This can include withholding or stealing money, abusing credit, controlling financial decisions, withholding financial information, sabotaging someone’s means of employment or income, creating financial dependence, and using class/status/economic power against the other person.

Emotional Abuse

A pattern of control whereby one person exerts power over another through verbal, psychological, or spiritual means, to frighten, intimidate, threaten, isolate, harass, berate, humiliate, disempower, or destabilize the other person.

Incest

Any sexual relations (usually defined as sexual intercourse) between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal or forbidden by custom. This prohibition applies to individuals who are closely related by blood, marriage, or adoption.

Molestation

To accost and harass sexually.

Physical Abuse

Acts of violence that include, but are not limited to, hitting, punching, kicking, strangling, biting, dragging, restraining, confining, assaulting, and threatening with weapons or objects.

Sexual Abuse

Any form of unwanted sexual behavior that violates a person’s boundaries or self-determination, including, but not limited to: sexual assault and sexual harassment, in appropriate touching, pressure to perform specific sexual acts, pressure to have unsafe sex, and degrading comments about one’s body or sexuality.

Spiritual Abuse

Any type of emotional mistreatment where one person uses spiritual practices to gain control over another person and can include using scripture to justify abuse, restricting access to worship, and invalidating or mocking one’s spiritual beliefs.

Spousal Abuse

An intentional act or series of acts that causes injury to a spouse physically, emotionally, or sexually. Spouse abuse is gender-neutral, and therefore the abuse may occur to a male or female. The term includes those who are married, cohabitating, or involved in a serious relationship. It also encompasses individuals who are separated and living apart from their former spouse.

Spousal Assault

The act of intentionally inflicting physical injury on a spouse or other person who is cohabitating with the abuser. It is distinct from and yet a part of spousal abuse in that all the dynamics that cause spousal abuse may be present in spousal assault. However, this form of assault may occur without the existence of the other forms of abuse, such as emotional or psychological injury, that typically accompany spousal abuse.

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