Anyone Can Be Abusive: How to Identify Unconventional Domestic Violence

When people hear the words “domestic violence,” they usually think of a situation where a man is assaulting his wife. That certainly happens, but it is far from the only type of violence or abuse that can occur in domestic relationships. 

Unconventional abuse often flies under the radar. This lack of awareness can cause people to stay in abusive relationships longer than necessary. However, many protections are available to people suffering from domestic abuse (DA) and domestic violence (DV) in California. Below, we explain how California defines DV, how to identify unconventional abuse, and how to get help if you suspect your relationship is abusive. 

California’s Definition of Domestic Violence

Two factors separate DV from other forms of assault or harm. The first is the relationship between the abuser and the person being abused, and the second is the type of harm occurring. According to California law, abuse becomes DV when it occurs between:

  • Married couples
  • Domestic partners
  • Ex-spouses or domestic partners
  • Current or formerly dating couples
  • Close relatives
  • Current or former cohabitants

Furthermore, abuse is not just physically attacking someone. While that is one type of abusive behavior, the law also defines it as:

  • Sexual assault
  • Making someone reasonably afraid for their physical safety or that of someone else
  • Harassing, stalking, or threatening someone
  • Disturbing someone’s peace through coercive control

Examples of Unconventional Abuse

There are many types of behavior that constitute domestic abuse under California’s laws that you may not immediately recognize as damaging. Some lesser-known but still serious and harmful examples of abusive behavior include:

  • Controlling your communication. If your spouse insists on reading your texts or guilts you for talking to people they don’t like, they may be exerting coercive control over you.
  • Isolating you from your support network. Abusive people often try to cut people off from their friends and family. This can include insulting your friends, pressuring you to cut off family members, preventing you from participating in religious events, or insisting you quit your job.
  • Restricting your access to money, such as by taking away your credit cards, giving you an “allowance,” or strictly monitoring how much you spend and making you feel bad for normal purchases. 

This type of behavior may not be physically violent, but it still falls under the umbrella of DV. It makes you more reliant on the abusive person, making it harder to leave them. That’s why California offers a variety of tools for abused people of all ages and genders to get away from the people harming them, from restraining orders to divorces

Getting Help for Domestic Violence in California

If people close to you have suggested you’re being abused, it’s worth considering the possibility. Whether you have suffered physical violence, emotional abuse, or coercive control, you can get help. At the Viola Law Firm P.C., we have decades of experience helping abused people leave relationships safely and start happy, healthy, independent new lives. Get in touch today to discuss your situation and learn your options for leaving your potentially abusive relationship.

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