What Classifies as Domestic Violence?

What Classifies as Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior used to gain or maintain control over an intimate partner. But with such a broad definition, it can be difficult to distinguish domestic violence from other forms of abuse. Categorizing behaviors can provide some clarity.

Physical Abuse

Physical altercations that harm an individual are perhaps the most obvious examples of domestic violence. These may include hitting, slapping, punching, shoving, kicking, or any other violent act that physically injures the recipient.

Neglect also classifies as physical abuse. Denying access to medical care, food, or proper hygiene can be used to punish or control a domestic partner. Conversely, forcing unwanted medication, food, or alcohol is deemed abusive as well.

All of these actions fall under Minnesota’s domestic abuse statute and are therefore classified as domestic abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Unwanted sexual coercion, exposure, and violence are all considered sexual abuse. Physical examples include forcing a partner into sexual acts against their will and attacking a partner’s sexual body parts. Psychological examples may include joking about or belittling a partner’s sexuality and publicizing explicit photos of a partner.

As traumatic as sexual abuse can be, it is not technically classified as domestic abuse. Rather, these actions would be classified as criminal sexual conduct.

Emotional Abuse

Manipulating a partner’s emotions can make them submissive and self-loathing. Emotional abuse often includes constant criticism, gaslighting, belittling, and name-calling. Attempts to put strains on a partner’s relationship with their children also classify as emotional abuse.

Although these actions can be harmful, an individual cannot be legally charged with emotional abuse.

Psychological Abuse

Threats of violence and intimidation are the calling cards of psychological abuse. Acts intended to evoke fear—such as destroying property, harming pets, and prohibiting social interaction—all fall under this classification.

While psychological abuse may not be filed as a domestic abuse charge, the accused may face different charges, including threats of violence or property destruction.

Economic Abuse

Forcing financial dependence is a sign of economic abuse. Actions may include preventing a partner from working, restricting access to bank accounts, and withholding financial information.

Although domestic violence victims often suffer economic abuse as well, financial restriction or exploitation falls under a different set of charges.


Stalking encompasses a broad range of unwanted behaviors. Showing up at a partner’s work, spying on them in public, sending threatening messages, or collecting private information all classify as stalking—a composite form of psychological and emotional abuse.

Depending on the severity, stalking is typically filed either as a gross misdemeanor or felony rather than as a domestic violence charge.

Charged with Domestic Violence?

Being charged with domestic violence or related offenses can drastically alter your life and reputation. If accusations have been made, no matter the severity, our expert team at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. is here to provide a bulwark of defense. We make it our business to ensure you have exemplary representation.

Call Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. at (612) 444-5020 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.