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Domestic violence typically refers to violence against a member of one's household, but it can also refer to individuals who are related or in a relationship. Any violence against spouses, dating partners, family members, children, and cohabitants constitutes domestic violence. Any form of physical violence, sexual abuse, verbal harassment, or emotional abuse is considered domestic violence. Extreme instances of domestic violence would be murder or rape, but usually it is referring to lesser forms of violence.

Domestic violence is classified as a unique crime in most states. If someone were to be accused of striking their spouse, they would be accused of domestic violence and not assault and battery. Physical abuse could include: hitting, biting, burning, kicking, or denying someone medical treatment. Sexual abuse is any form of sexual contact that is against the victim's will. Emotional abuse could refer to continual harassment, criticism, name-calling, or parental alienation. Economic abuse includes withholding funds, prohibiting the victim from working, or seeking to gain control over their finances.

Verbal abuse can range from profanity against the victim to incessant criticism to purposeful humiliation. Psychological abuse focuses on intimidation and threats. These threats could be of violence against the victim, or against the victim's children, family, or friends. Stalking can also be considered domestic violence. Any form of spying, harassing, or following could be punishable by law.

The justice system takes domestic violence allegation very seriously. The penalties can include jail, fines, financial restitution, probation, counseling, community service, and a permanent mark on your criminal record. It could also affect the accused's ability to see their children or work with children. More extreme violence or violence involving the use of a deadly weapon will worsen the situation.

In family disputes, emotions can run high and it is not uncommon for false allegations to be made. Domestic violence laws are there to protect the innocent, but many people take advantage of these laws and use them to harm family members that they are angry with. If this is your case, you need a skilled domestic violence attorney to stand up for your rights and protect you against untruth.