What is domestic violence? Well, from the CMHC's ''Family Violence Program'' brochure, domestic violence is...

What is domestic violence? Well, from the CMHC's "Family Violence Program"
brochure, domestic violence is...

Physical: Use of slapping, kicking, hitting, biting, shoving, or
          other physical means to gain power or control over another

Sexual: Sexual behavior involving force, threat of force, or coercion.

Psychological: Behavior involving intimidation, coercion, or threat;
               emotional abuse; isolation of the victim from family
               and friends; controlling/witholding finances or money
               from the victim; assertion of "male privilege" to gain
               power and control over the victim; and "using" the
               children to manipulate the victim (Domestic Abuse
               Treatment Project).

Over the couse of discussions here about Domestic Violence, and, to a
degree, other subjects, I've noticed a number of legal terms being used.
I decided a bit of research was in order and looked up some of the
common ones, as well as others that seemed connected to the topic.
Here they are.

[All definitions are from:  Law Dictionary by Steven H. Gifis, Barron's
Educational Series, Inc., Woodburry, NY,1975;  ISBN 0-8120-0543-0;
Lib. of Congress # 74-18126]

ABUSE OF PROCESS      employment of the civil or criminal process
for a use other than one which is intended by law; "the improper use of
process after it has been issued, that is, a perversion of it."  32 A. 2d
413, 415. "Malicious use of civil process has to do with the wrongful
initiation of such process, while abuse of civil process is concerned with
a perversion of a process after it is issued."  Id.

ALIENATION OF AFFECTIONS      "a tort based upon willful and
malicious interference with the marriage relation by a third party,
without justification or excuse....By definition, it includes and embraces
mental anguish, loss of social position, disgrace, humiliation and
embarrassment, as well as actual pecuniary loss due to destruction
of disruption of the marraige relationship and the loss of financial
support, if any."  415 S.W. 2d 127, 132.  The interference may be
in the nature of adultery (a tort called then CRIMINAL CONVERSATION)
or may result from lesser acts which deprive the other spouse of
affection from his or her marital partner.  "More actions of this kind
have been brought against parents than anyone else and the meddling
mother-in-law is more frequently a defendant than the wicked lover."
Prosser, Torts 876 (4th ed. 1971).  Statutes in several states have
abolished this cause of action because of the potential for abuse
through blackmail and extortion.  See Id.at 887.  See consortium.

ASSAULT       an attempt, with unlawful force, to inflict bodily injury
upon another, accompanied by the apparent present ability to give effect
to the attempt if not prevented.  125 P. 2d 681, 690.  As a tort, an
assault may be found even where no actual intent to make one exists (as
where a "joke" is intended) if the actor places the victim in reasonable
fear.  Because an assault need not result in a touching, so as to constitute
a battery, no physical injury need be proved to establish an assault.
An assault is both a personal tort and a criminal offense and thus may
be a basis for a civil action and/or a criminal prosecution.  Some
jurisdictions have by statute defined the criminal assault to include
what at common law was the battery -- the actual physical injury.  In
those jurisdictions an offense of "menacing" often replaces the common
law assault.  See e.g., N.Y. Penal Law Art. 120.

      AGGREVATED ASSAULT      an assault where "serious bodily
      injury" is inflicted on the person assaulted, 282 P. 2d 772;
      a particularly fierce or reprehensible depravity or atrocity --
      including assaults committed with dangerous or deadly
      weapons;  an assault committed intentionally concomitant
      with further crime.

BATTERY       "the unlawful application of force to the person of
another,"  Perkins, Criminal Law 107 (2nd ed. 1969);  the least
touching of another's person willfully, or in anger, 3 Bl. Comm.
*120;  the actual touching involved in an "assault and battery."
In tort law the legal protection from battery extends to any partpf
one's body or to "anything so closely attached thereto that it is
customarily regarded a a part thereof."  Restatement, Torts  18.
"Thus, contact with the plaintiff's clothing, or with a cane, ... the car
which he is riding [sic] or driving" will be sufficient to create civil
tort liability.  Prosser, Torts 34 (4th ed. 1971).  If the contact is
offensive, even though harmless, it entitles the plaintiff to an award
of nominal damages.  I the criminal law, every punishable
application of force to the person of another is a criminal battery
(a misdemeanor at common law).  Conviction of battery may be
based upon criminal negligence but not ordinary civil negligence.
See Perkins, supra at 111-12.

CLEAN HANDS   the concept in equity that claimants who seek
equitable relief must not themselves have indulged in any impropriety
in relation to the transaction upon which relief is sought;  freedom
from participation in unfair conduct.  A party with "unclean hands"
cannot ask a court of conscience [the equity court] to come to his aid.

FIGHTING WORDS        "those which by their very utterance inflict
injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."  315 U.S.
568, 572.  The utterance of fighting words is not protected by the First
Amendment guarantee of free speech.  Id.  Later cases support the
view that it is not merely the words themselves, but the context in
which they are uttered that qualify them as "fighting words,"  and
there is often a further requirement that the words be spoken with
intent to have the effect of inciting the hearer to an immediate breach
of the peace.  266 A. 2d 579, 584.

In tort law one who uses fighting words towards another, and who
thereby creates reasonable apprehension in that person, may be guilty
of an assault despite the doctrine that words alone do not constitute
an assault.  See generally Prosser, Torts 40 (4th ed. 1971)
See also defamation;  slander.

REASONABLE MAN [PERSON]       a phrase used to denote a hypothetical
person who exercises "those qualities of attention, knowledge, intelligence,
and judgement which society requires of its members for the protection
of their own interest and the interest of others."  Restatement Torts 
283(a).  Thus, the test of negligence is based on a failure to do
"something which a reasonable man, guided by those considertions which
ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or [the doing
of] something which a reasonable man would not do."  43 S.W. 508, 509.
The phrase does not apply to a person's ability to reason, but rather the
prudence with which he acts under the circumstances.  See id.
Similar phrases include:  "reasonably prudent person,"
"ordinarily prudent man," etc.

SELF-DEFENSE  the right which exists to protect one's person,
or members of one's family, and, to a lesser extent, one's property,
from harm by an aggressor.  It is a valid defense to a criminal charge
or to tort liability.  The essential elements of self-defense are, "[f]irst,
that the defendant must be free from fault, must not say or do anything
for the purpose of provoking a difficulty, nor be unmindful of the
consequences in this respect of any wrongful word or act;  second, there
 must be no convienient mode of escape by retreat or by declining the
combat;  and, lastly, there must be a present impending peril ... either
real or apparent, [so] as to create the bona fide belief of an existing
necessity."  23 So. 2d 19, 20.  Whether or not retreat is required
depends upon the jurisdiction and the circumstances.

There are two classes of self-defense, perfect and imperfect.  "A
perfect right of self-defense can only obtain and avail where the party
pleading it acted from necessity, and was wholly free from wrong or
blame in occaisioning or producing the necessity which required his
action.  If, however, he was in the wrong -- if he was himself violating
or in the act of violating the law -- and on account of his own wrong
was placed in a situation wherein it became necessary for him to
defend himself against an attack made upon himself, which was
superinduced or created by his own wrong, then the law justly limits
his right of self-defense, and regulates it according to the magnitude
of his own wrong.  Such a state [is] ... the imperfect right of
self-defense."  162 U.S. 466, 472.  See also justification.

TORT  a wrong;  a private or civil wrong or injury independent of
contract, resulting from a breach of a legal duty.  256 N.E. 2d 254,
259.  The essential elements of a tort are the existence of a legal duty
owed by defendant to plaintiff, breach of that duty, and a causal
relation between defendant's conduct and the resulting damages to
plaintiff.  See also derivative tort.

IMO, no home should be without a law dictionary.  The particular one
I'm using is available in soft cover.  I've had mine for some years and
haven't priced them lately, but it's still likely under $10.  It is probably
also available in CD ROM format for the technologically advantaged.
I'd imagine also that some university networks have such a resource
available on-line.


"Civilization is nothing else but the attempt to reduce force
to being the last resort."            Ortega y Gasset
>I've seen this too. I've been present a couple of times when I've seen a
>wife slap a husband and call him stupid. Not only is there the embarassment
>factor. There is also the factor for some men who were raised to be perfect
>gentlemen, and that being whacked by the wife was just something to be put
>up with.

I've missed this thread up until now, but I am aware of more than one study
on the subject of domestic violence that argues that the frequency of
female-to-male violence is roughly equal to the frequency of
male-to-female violence.   Some references, for those who want to check
these things out:

Steinmetz, Suzanne K., and Lucca, Joseph S., "Husband Battering," in
   Van Hasselt, Vincent B., (ed), _Handbook of family violence_,
   New York: Plenum, 1988.

Steinmetz, Suzanne K., "The Battered Husband Syndrome," _Victimology_,
   1977, 2(3-4):499-509.

Chesanow, Neil, "Violence at Home," _New Woman_, February 1992, pg. 96-98.

Garcia, Jane, "The Cost of Escaping Domestic Violence," _Los Angeles
   Times_, May 6, 1991.   This article focuses on domestic violence
   in lesbian couples.

McNeely, R.L., and Robinson-Simpson, Gloria, "The Truth About Domestic
   Violence: A Falsely Framed Issue," _Social Work_, 1987, 32(6):485-490.

Gelles, Richard J., "Domestic Criminal Violence," in Wolfgang, Marvin
   E., _Criminal Violence_, Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1982,
   pg. 201-235.

--Ed Matz