Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation. Domestic violence, so defined, has many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.
Alcohol consumption and mental illness can be co-morbid with abuse, and present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country, and from era to era.
Domestic violence and abuse is not limited to obvious physical violence. Domestic violence can also mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing, harassment, and stalking.
Laws on domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this not the case in many developing countries. For instance, in 2010, the United Arab Emirates's Supreme Court has ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he doesn't leave physical marks. The social acceptability of domestic violence also differes by country. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15-49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Jordan, 85.6% in Guinea, 85.4% in Zambia, 85% in Sierra Leone, 81.2% in Laos, 81% in Ethiopia.