Below are some general definitions of the types of violence. These are not legal definitions, but should give a better idea of what each term means. Please contact SAFE Project at any time if you have questions or would like more specific information. Also, check the national resources page for other sources of information.
Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence
Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence is purposeful conduct perpetuated against an intimate partner in a current or former dating, married, or cohabitative relationship. It is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors. These include physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic control. While physical abuse is often a major component of intimate partner violence, abusers are also very likely to use non-assaultive types of abuse, such as emotional abuse, verbal abuse, threats and intimidation.
Sexual Assault and Rape
Sexual assault and rape are crimes motivated by a need to control, humiliate, and harm.
Sexual Assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (Some states use this term interchangeably with rape).
Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or object.
Stalking is generally defined as a course of conduct that places a person in fear for their safety. The term is commonly used to describe specific kinds of behavior directed at a particular person, such as harassing or threatening another person.
Child Abuse and Elder Abuse
These terms describe abuse to more “vulnerable populations”, including people under the age of 18 and over the age of 65. Abuse includes physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect. In both types of abuse, the victim is often dependant on the parent, child, partner or caregiver that is the abuser, which makes assistance even more vital.