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Introduction to Domestic Violence & GBV

Introduction to Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

What is Gender-Based Violence?

Gender-based violence is a general term used to capture any type of violence that is rooted in exploiting unequal power relationships between genders. This can include gender norms and role expectations specific to a society as well as situational power imbalances and inequities. Gender-based violence can impact anyone, and can include intimate partner and family violence, elder abuse, sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking.



  • Elder abuse is any action that causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse occurs within the context of trusting familial or care-taking relationships, and can include neglect as well as threats or the actual use of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, or financial abuse. "Elder" or "older adult" typically refers to individuals aged 60+.
  • Sexual violence is any action that results in the loss or removal of sexual autonomy for a person. Sexual violence includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sex trafficking, non-consensual distribution of intimate images, and any other non-consensual, forced, or drug-facilitated sexual action.
  • Stalking is a pattern of harassing behavior or course of conduct directed at a specific person that would place that person in reasonable fear. Stalking behaviors include, but are not limited to, monitoring someone’s activities, following someone, leaving unwanted gifts and notes, and making repeated phone calls to someone and/or their family, friends, or workplace.
  • Human trafficking is the use of power and control to force, defraud or coerce someone into engaging in labor or services, including commercial sex. Traffickers use tactics including violence, emotional manipulation, and psychological threats, exploiting social and economic inequity for their benefit.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is an umbrella term that encompasses both Intimate Partner Violence and Family Violence.

  • Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of coercive and abusive behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. This includes people with any current or former romantic involvement, for example dating, previously dating, on again/off again, married, divorced, living together or apart. Intimate partner violence can occur between people of any gender identity or sexual orientation, and can include manipulation, threats, or the actual use of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, or financial abuse. (See also: Equality Wheel)
  • Family Violence is any abusive behavior that occurs between members of a family or household who are not involved in a romantic relationship. This includes chosen family as well as people related by blood, marriage, foster care, adoption or any other familial relationships. Family violence can include threats or the actual use of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, or financial abuse.

How Prevalent Is Domestic and Gender-Based Violence?

In the United States 1 in 4 women experience abuse during their lifetimes. Globally, the United Nations reports that up to 70% of women experience some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime (according to country data available).

Learn more about New York City's domestic violence statistics

What Help Is Available for Survivors?

In the United States, it is against the law to intentionally injure someone, force them to participate in a sexual act, or put someone in fear of physical injury.

New York City has Family Justice Centers in every borough, where victims and survivors of domestic and gender-based violence can get connected to free and confidential assistance. All are welcome regardless of age, income, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, or language spoken. Interpretation services are available on-site, and locations are wheelchair accessible. Visitors can call ahead to request other accommodations.

Learn more about the New York City Family Justice Centers