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What is domestic violence and why is it important to know?

Domestic violence is a problem in New Jersey and across the country. There is a steady supply of news reports exposing its prevalence in society today. Domestic violence is an often-heard term, but what exactly is it? The answer to this question is important to know because someone could be a domestic violence victim or abuser without even realizing that what he or she is experiencing is in fact domestic violence.

Most people think of physical and sexual abuse as domestic violence, but there are a number of types of abuse that fall under the larger category of domestic violence. Emotional abuse includes diminishing one's self-worth with negative comments and criticism. Psychological abuse preys on one's fears with threats, intimidation and isolation. Attempting to make one financially dependent by controlling all of his or her finances is economic abuse. Stalking, both personal and cyberstalking, can also be a form of domestic violence.

Domestic violence was originally called "wife abuse," but that term has been abandoned as it has become accepted that not only women are victims. Victims can be male or female and any age. Victims of domestic violence vary widely and can include, but are not limited to, spouses, non-married partners, children, cohabitants and other family members.

There are many forms of domestic violence, and there are many different types of victims. Laws pertaining to domestic violence vary from state-to-state, and the consequences for domestic violence can be significant. Anyone with concerns about how New Jersey laws apply to his or her situation should seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. An experienced attorney can clarify the law and the options one has to protect his or her interests.

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