Spousal abuse is the term applied to the specific form of domestic violence, where physical or sexual abuse is perpetuated by one spouse upon another. The term was coined in the late 1970s when such crimes were given wider attention in society. There are separate legalities and punishments applied to such a crime as opposed to random assault or assaults of another nature.
Most reported cases of spousal abuse involve violence by men against women. However, there are a significant minority of cases involving violence by women against men, violence by same-sex partners or where both parties act out violently against one another. Men tend not to report spousal abuse at the same rate as women; partly because they diminish the impact themselves and partly because society, media, police and courts also tend to diminish its impact.
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