Domestic violence covers two types of violence:
- conjugal, relational or love violence, i.e., violence between two intimate partners of the same or opposite sex, married, in a partnership or in a common-law relationship, which takes place at any time during the relationship, including at the time of the break-up or after the relationship has ended, regardless of whether the partners share or have shared the same home;
- domestic violence, i.e., violence between two or more adults and/or minors with a family or non-family relationship (traditional and blended family: grandparents, parents, children, siblings, friends) living together in a family setting.
It should be stressed that not all cases of violence are the same.
- In some cases, one partner wants to have power and control over the other partner and uses different means to achieve this, including different forms of violence, even physical violence.
- In other cases, the violence is reciprocal between partners, i.e., they are violent towards each other.
It is also important to know that domestic violence can be an isolated act or a series of acts that can be repeated, escalated and made worse. Moreover, domestic violence is not limited to physical violence but also includes psychological violence, sexual violence, including rape, economic violence and social violence.
Don’t forget that your children — as direct or indirect witnesses of violence — are victims too!
These different forms of violence are condemned by the Penal Code. When they occur in the context of predefined domestic violence, the penalties are more severe (e.g. aggravated circumstances). Some forms of domestic violence can also constitute gender-based violence.
The amended law of 8 September 2003 on domestic violence states that any person who endangers or repeatedly endangers the physical integrity of a person with whom he or she is cohabiting in a family setting may be expelled from the family home for 14 days.
The police will intervene if they are called by the person who is being abused, a direct or indirect witness, or even the person who is abusing. They will collect evidence on the spot and inform the prosecutor who will decide whether or not to expel the person.
Whether you are experiencing violence, witnessing violence or resorting to violence yourself, know that you are not alone. You can break the cycle of violence and get help to remove yourself from the situation.