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The dynamics underlying domestic and family violence can be best described as an abuse of power, perpetrated mainly by men, in a relationship and after separating from a relationship. It amounts to a pattern of behavior, which involves escalating levels of emotional abuse, intimidation, physical abuse and violent behavior in order to gain or maintain control over the partner. It frequently involves various forms of sexual acts committed against the partner without their consent.
Domestic and family violence is also any behavior or pattern of behavior that unlawfully restricts the freedom, self-determination, movement or actions of the other person, with whom they have a relationship. The most common forms of domestic and family violence involves emotional and psychological abuse and does not always include behavior that results in physical violence. This can result in a longer lasting impact on the victim with symptomatic related anxiety, trauma and depression. This can often lead to other medical symptoms requiring frequent attendance to General Practitioners.
Long-term effects on victims may result in a dependence on alcohol or prescription drugs in an attempt to cope with the situation. Recognizing the underlying issue and the abuse is the start to stopping the abuse. In most circumstances, the perpetrator is male and the main contributing factor for their abusive behavior is the perception in their mind that they have a right of power over the victim. This perception of power over the victim represents a major factor in the perpetrator’s capability to commit abusive and criminal behavior. The perpetrator generally believes they can control the life of their partner by the use of emotional manipulation and threats. The pattern of abusive behavior usually develops and escalates over time with periodic episodes of extremes of that behavior, resulting in physical assault. The violence can also occur as a single act of a significant abusive behavior that causes the partner to fear personal harm and fear for their future safety. The mental state of perpetrators is also of critical importance. Suicidal tendencies or fantasy with suicide needs to be taken seriously.
The most common form of domestic and family violence occurs within families consisting of married and de-facto relationships, intimate partners, ex-partners and frequently extends to the abuse of their children and parents. It also occurs in the form of parental abuse of children, older children abusing siblings and parents, as well as abuse of family elders.
Domestic and family violence can also occur in same sex relationships where an imbalance of power and control develops between partners. In some cases, the identification of the perpetrator can be difficult to determine due to the dynamics of the specific relationship. Police follow the same procedures in responding to Same Sex domestic violence incidents as they do in responding to other domestic and family violence incidents.