New DOJ Definition of “Domestic Violence”

The Department of Justice, (DOJ), has changed the definition of “Domestic Violence”!  I only recently discovered this and was curious.  When I read the new definition, I became concerned.

The Department of Justice’s previous definition of “Domestic Violence” was:

“A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”  Source:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/doj-change-domestic-violence-definition/

Retrieved 06/22/19

The current version on the DOJ website, as of April 2018, reads:

“The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.”  Source:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/doj-change-domestic-violence-definition/

Retrieved 06/22/19

My observations:

  1. What is glaringly obvious is how drastically different the two definitions are from one another! I.e. Not just a few minor changes.
  2. We see that whereas the previous definition recognized that Domestic Violence is not merely physical violence, (it listed all forms of abuse), the new definition includes only “felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence”, which means that it is discounting many forms of abuse that perpetrators use on his/her/their victim.
  3. The previous definition explained the goal behind the Domestic Violence, i.e. to gain power and control, and it even offered further explanation for how the abusive behaviors seek to gain power and control. g. Aiming to intimidate or manipulate a victim.  The new definition acknowledged none of the above.

Why am I concerned about the new definition?  I feel that the new definition is sending a message that only Domestic Violence punishable by law is considered as “Domestic Violence”, and by offering such a narrow description, it is potentially misleading, as well as appearing to invalidate all other types of Domestic Violence.  Also, I am wondering why the Trump administration felt compelled to change the definition.  What could be the thinking and the goal behind such an extreme change of wording?

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