Domestic violence is regarded as a widespread problem in American society. Although often assumed to cover only violence between spouses or intimate partners, in many states laws prohibiting domestic violence include other relationships, such as adult siblings who live together or adults who care for their elderly parents. Since many cases go unreported, it is difficult to obtain precise figures regarding the scope and extent of the problem. Although there is no universally agreed definition of domestic violence, it is generally accepted as the use of coercive control within an intimate or family relationship. .
In March 2013, the Home Office extended its definition of domestic violence to include coercive control and violence or abuse experienced by people aged 16 years and over. The revised definition covers: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behavior, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality (Trevillion 35).
Physical abuse includes behaviors such as hitting, pushing or kicking, burning, throwing objects, stabbing or shooting, and sleep deprivation. It can also include failure to provide for basic needs, for example food and clothing. Evidence suggests that women are at increased risk of being subjected to physical violence during pregnancy. Approximately 25 percent of women in violent relationships are assaulted for the first time during pregnancy, and 40-60 percent continue to be abused while pregnant. Honor-based violence is a form of physical abuse that is predominantly perpetrated by males against female relatives. This includes forced marriage, deprivation of freedom, and murder. Honor-based crimes are motivated by a desire to preserve family or community honor. Codes of honor define boundaries of acceptable behavior, and a woman's honor may be tainted if these codes are broken, for example by having a relationship with someone of a different faith.