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What is Conjugal Violence?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 16, 2024
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Conjugal violence, often referred to as spousal violence or spousal abuse, is violence that occurs between two people in an intimate or romantic relationship, especially a man and wife. This type of domestic violence is often used when one partner is either trying to gain control or maintain control over another. Conjugal violence does not always have to be physical. It can also be emotional, sexual, or economic.

When most people think of domestic or conjugal violence, images of wives being hit by their husbands often spring to mind. Physical violence, however, can be perpetrated by either a man or a woman against a spouse or intimate partner. Physical violence in these types of situations can include such actions as hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, choking, or even grabbing roughly. Physical conjugal violence can also occur when a partner forces his partner to ingest drugs or alcohol, or denies medical attention to his spouse. Depriving her of food, water, sleep, or other necessities is also considered physical violence.

Sexual abuse is another form of conjugal violence. This is often defined as any type of sexual contact against another person's will. It can include one partner physically forcing his significant other to have sex with him. Using threats or blackmail for sexual favors can also be considered sexual abuse. Also, when one partner is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unconscious, or otherwise unable to give consent to a sexual act, it may also be considered sexual abuse or sexual assault.

Another form of conjugal violence is emotional, or psychological violence. This type of abuse is usually an attempt to embarrass, humiliate, or isolate a person. Threatening behavior or words, along with name calling or severe criticism are all examples of psychological violence.

Isolating a victim from her family or friends is another type of psychological violence. This can happen when a victim's abuser threatens her if she speaks to anyone, or when he strongly disapproves of the people that she speaks to. Isolation can make a victim feel as though she has no support system, making it extremely hard for her to leave an abusive situation.

One partner controlling the other's money and other financial situations is also considered to be a sort of conjugal violence. Combined with isolation and other types of conjugal violence, this is often one of the reasons that many victims do not leave abusive situations. When many of them do decide to leave, they find that, not only do they have few friends or family left, but they also have no money to start over. Economic violence can include not allowing another individual to work, or taking that individual's money.

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