The Language We Use
Words are powerful, so the language we use throughout this site was chosen with intention.
Domestic or intimate partner violence?
In the domestic violence service field, there are many different ways to describe relationship violence. Throughout this site you will see an interchanging of “domestic violence” and “intimate partner violence.”
What’s the difference and why do we use both phrases?
Domestic violence refers to violence among people in a domestic situation, and can thus include not only a spouse or partner (same sex or opposite sex), but also siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
Intimate partner violence is more specific in describing violence perpetrated by a partner in a romantic or dating relationship. This sort of abuse is Women Against Abuse’s primary focus; however, the descriptor “intimate partner violence” is a more recent term. Many people still consider “domestic violence” as referring in fact to intimate/dating partners. It’s a nuanced issue, and until the general public begins using a more inclusive term, we have decided to use both phrases interchangeably when we discuss relationship violence.
Furthermore, we recognize that abuse occurs within a spectrum of relationships, and it is our intention to ensure that anyone that is in an abusive relationship will be able to access interventions. Some of these relationships include: sex trafficking; relationships described as "hooking up," "dating;" "friends with benefits," or other terminology; abuse within an institutional setting; and other abusive relationships where there is a pattern of coercive (use of force or threats) behaviors or tactics utilized against the victim with a purpose of gaining and keeping power or control over them.
Victim or Survivor?
Another thing you might have noticed is that we often interchange the words "victim" and "survivor." While our philosophy of empowerment propels us to prefer the word "survivor," we recognize that people currently experiencing relationship violence are, in fact, being victimized. They sometimes need help, and the seriousness of their situation may be more evident through the use of the word "victim."
We have seen countless victims overcome the trauma of domestic violence to rebuild their lives and embrace futures of hope and safety as survivors. That, after all, is what we’re all about!
We try to avoid gendered pronouns whenever possible, because intimate partner violence impacts the entire spectrum of heterosexual and LGBTQIA relationships. Also, while the statistics show that domestic violence predominantly impacts individuals who identify as women, men also experience abuse as victims.