Definition of Domestic Violence

  1. There is no specific offence of domestic violence, as such. ‘Domestic violence’ is a general term which describes a range of behaviour often used by one person to control or dominate another with whom they have, or have had, a close or family relationship. It is often a series of abusive incidents, whether physical or not, that has a cumulative effect on the victim. Domestic violence occurs irrespective of background and circumstance, sexuality, age, disability and gender, but the majority of abusers are male and victims female.
  2. Domestic violence may be broadly described as any criminal offence which arises out of violence, threatening behaviour or physical, sexual or emotional abuse, between adults who are or have been intimate partners, or else between family members. An adult is any person aged 18 years and over, and family members include mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or step-family.
  3. If an act of violence arises within a domestic context, the perpetrator may be prosecuted for an offence under the general criminal law. For example, the Crimes Ordinance, Cap 200, deals with sexual and related offences, such as rape, incest, indecent assault and criminal intimidation. The Offences against the Person Ordinance, Cap 212, covers such offences as homicide, wounding, assault, forcible taking or detention of persons, unlawful abandonment or exposure of a child aged under two years, and wilful assault, ill-treatment, neglect or abandonment of a child.
  4. Domestic violence can involve abusers and victims of either gender. The prosecutor should respond appropriately to the needs of all victims of domestic violence, regardless of their gender or age or that of the abuser.