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"Relationship Violence" vs. "Domestic Violence"

by Darlene Barriere - Webmaster
(Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada)


There is a distinction between relationship violence (RV) and domestic violence (DV).


The term "relationship violence" is used when there is emotional, physical and/or sexual assault of one partner by the other in a dating relationship where the couple are NOT living together. Two other interchangeable terms for this type of violence are "courtship violence" and "dating violence."

The term "domestic violence" is used when there is emotional, physical and/or sexual assault of one partner by the other in a relationship where the couple ARE living together. Another term for this type of violence is "spousal violence."

Couples in either relationship and domestic violence situations can be:
  • male/female
  • male/male
  • female/female
Studies have determined that the amount of violence in same-sex couples is more or less on par with those in heterosexual couples.

I chose to include RV stories on this site because relationship violence most often affects adolescents, and because RV is often a child abuse effect. That is to say, when children grow up in violent and abusive homes, they are much more likely to either be violent themselves, or pick violent partners.
  • STAT: The average age of the first violent episode in a dating relationship is 15.

  • STAT: Females also assault males, emotionally, physically and sexually while in a dating relationship with that male.

  • STAT: Most relationship violence starts in high school. Adolescents as young as 11 years old are impacted by dating violence.
There is, however, a link between dating violence and spousal violence: The existence of violence in a dating relationship increases the probability of violence in a future marriage. One study found that 51% of female victims of spousal violence reported they had been physically assaulted in a dating relationship.

While domestic violence is in many cases a child abuse effect with one or both live-in partners—both the abused and the abuser were very likely abused or witnessed abuse as children—the reason I have not opened the site to domestic violence is because in the vast majority of cases, domestic violence affects adults. I have addressed the issue of children who witness spousal abuse on my types of emotional abuse page on this site.

My decision to not include domestic violence stories, articles and commentaries is in no way intended as a slight against anyone who has experienced this type of violence. Domestic violence is a very serious issue, one that needs to be address in a much more dedicated forum than I can provide on this child abuse site.

Email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses AND website/blog URLs in visitor comments are STRICTLY prohibited, and could result in being banned from making further comments on this site.

Click here to read or post comments

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Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge the child abuse
stories on this site are true. While I cannot guarantee
this, I do try to balance the need for the submitter to be
heard and validated with the needs of my visitors.



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