Domestic violence means violence in intimate relationships, especially in domestic partnerships and families. It comprises all forms of action that involve physical, psychological, sexual and economic violence.
Children who witness such relationships that are characterised by violence are highly affected as well.
Domestic violence is carried out by marriage partners, life partners or other relatives, and it also occurs in same-sex relationships.
In most cases of domestic violence, men are the perpetrators, while women mostly suffer from it. But women also resort to violence in intimate relationships, while men can become victims of domestic violence as well.
In Germany, there is no consistent definition of domestic violence. The term is widely used in many areas of work, for example, by organisations supporting women affected by violence, by police and judicial authorities, and in the youth welfare sector. However, the scope of the term varies in different contexts: Sometimes it includes violence by attachment figures against children, sometimes it exclusively refers to violence by partners.
In recent professional discourses, definitions also include other forms of social environments and relationships. Among other things, they take into account that persons who are accommodated in a facility for disabled people or in a care facility can experience violence, for example, by fellow occupants or staff members. Such contexts are described as violence in the close social environment.