Is it considered domestic violence if he threatened me with a knife?
When most people think of domestic violence, they picture visible bruises and other signs of physical distress. Not all types of domestic violence are so easy to spot, though, and some types don’t leave a physical mark at all. In fact, many types of domestic violence are impossible to see unless you’ve been present – something that abusers count on to keep them safe. If you have been threatened by your partner with a knife, for example, you may feel like you have nowhere to turn. After all, he didn’t actually do anything – he just made a threat. It’s important, though, that you understand the severity of the situation. If you take a moment, you really should begin to think about whether such an incident might qualify under the law as domestic violence.
What is Domestic Violence?
The first step in answering this question is having a reasonable definition of what constitutes domestic violence. After all, it’s impossible to know if being threatened with a knife falls under that umbrella if you don’t know the definition of the term. Unfortunately, there is not a simple legal definition of the term – the specific terms used to classify domestic violence do vary between jurisdictions, so having a precise answer can be difficult. It is, however, possible to give a very basic definition of what kind of acts can be considered domestic violence in most areas.
Domestic violence is defined simply as a pattern of abuse in a relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another. This abuse does not have to be physical in nature – emotional, psychological, sexual, and even economic abuse do qualify under this banner. Domestic violence can be committed by – or against – spouses, intimate partners, children, family members, and even roommates. While the definition does typically specify that a pattern of abuse must occur, most legal definitions of the crime do not make a mention of such a pattern. All it takes is a single incident for domestic violence to occur.
Does it Count?
With what was discussed earlier firmly in mind, it becomes easier to determine whether being threatened with a knife can count as domestic violence. It is now necessary to look at whether the incident falls within the bounds described above – whether it happened in a relationship, and whether it counts as a type of abuse. Fortunately, this is much easier to determine than it would be if the definition of domestic violence was more nebulous. Discussing each factor should make the answer fairly clear.
First, you need to take a look at your relationship. Are you married to the person who threatened you with a knife? If so, there’s a very good chance that this will be considered domestic violence. This also stands if you were in a romantic or sexual relationship with that person, or even if you were roommates. Domestic violence depends on a pre-existing relationship between the two parties and any of those would be more than enough to satisfy that factor. So long as the person who threatened you is someone with whom you have a close relationship with, domestic violence is a real possibility.
The next thing to look at is whether or not being threatened with a knife counts as abuse. While some might tell you that abuse can only occur when one person physically strikes another, this is not true in the vast majority of circumstances. Putting a person in fear of his or her life is more than enough to constitute abuse. Remember, the definition of domestic violence does include psychological and emotional abuse, two other categories under which this incident might fall. The threat, though, is usually more than enough to be considered a real type of physical abuse.
Don’t forget that being threatened with a knife is actually a crime outside of the relationship, too. Threats like this are generally taken very seriously and are dealt with as criminal matters. Even if you think that no one would take a claim of domestic assault seriously, stop to remember that if a stranger had done this to you that he or she would be taken to jail. This is a serious matter that does need to be reported.
So, is it domestic violence if you are threatened with a knife? So long as the person doing the threatening is in a close relationship with you, this should be considered an act of domestic violence. Proving the act can be difficult, though, as is establishing any pattern of behavior. If you do find yourself threatened in any way, it’s important that you both call the police as well as a lawyer who is used to dealing with domestic violence cases. This is a serious criminal matter and it’s very important that you do not treat it lightly.