Domestic Violence as understood in simple language means any violence faced by a woman at her home.

Domestic Violence is defined under law as any act, omission or commission by any person who is in a domestic relationship [we will explain in detail the meaning of ‘domestic relationship’, in our next Article, which will help you understand who all under law can be prosecuted for inflicting domestic violence] with a woman, which – 

  1. harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of such woman or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
  2. harasses, harms, injures or endangers such woman with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
  3. has the effect of threatening such woman or any person related to her; or 
  4. injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to such woman. 

‘Domestic Violence’ has been defined under the law in the modest possible manner, so as to protect women from any kind of violence faced in a domestic relationship. The term is open to interpretation and differs on a case to case basis. 

Earlier, domestic violence was defined in a way to only include the violence inflicted by an adult male on a woman he is in a domestic relationship with. However, in Hiral P. Harsora Vs Kusum Narottam Dass Harsora [(2016) 10 SCC 165], the Supreme Court observed that only including an adult male to be the person who conducts domestic violence would be derogatory to Article 14 of the Indian constitution and women and minors were also included within the ambit of persons causing domestic violence. This was indeed a needed amendment to the act, considering the fact that even women and minors can inflict domestic violence on a woman and if only an adult male would have been prosecuted for domestic violence, he would have had ways to escape. 

Having defined the basics of domestic violence, let us now analyse in detail the meanings of  – physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse used in the definition of domestic violence. 

Physical abuse 

Physical abuse is the use of physical force against a woman in a way that causes her bodily injury or hurt. Physical assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force are also forms of physical abuse like beating, kicking and punching, throwing objects, damaging property, punched walls, kicked doors, abandoning her in a dangerous or unfamiliar place, using a weapon to threaten or hurt her, forcing her to leave the matrimonial home, hurting her children, using physical force in sexual situations. 

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is also a form of physical abuse. Any situation in which a woman is forced to participate in unwanted, safe or degrading sexual activity, calling her sexual names, hurting a woman with objects and weapons during sex, is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by spouse or intimate partner, is an act of aggression and violence.

Economic abuse

Economic abuse is not a very recognized form of abuse among the women but it is very detrimental. Economic abuse mainly includes a woman not been provided with enough money by her partner to maintain herself and her children, which may comprise money for food, clothing, medicines, etc. and not allowing a woman to take up an employment. Depriving a woman of or disposal of her stridhan is also a form of economic abuse. Forcing her out of the house where she lives and not providing her rent, in case of a rented share hold also amounts to abuse. Depriving her of all or any economic or financial resources to which the person is entitled under the law or custom, restricting the woman’s access to the shared household. Disposing or alienating the assets of the women whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like other property in which she may have an interest.

Verbal and emotional abuse

Not all abusive relationships involve violence. Many women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked-even by the woman being abused.  

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. Isolation, intimidation and controlling behaviour also fall under emotional abuse. Calling her names, insulting her or continually criticising her is also a form of emotional abuse. 

Most importantly, insulting or ridiculing a woman specially with regard to not having a child or a male child is a form of emotional and verbal abuse. 

Further, repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the woman is interested is also emotional and verbal abuse.  

Note: This Article provides an outline of the law. If you have specific queries or questions, please feel free to DM on instagram or email us at