Terms We Use


Term we use

abuse: to insult, hurt, injure, rape and/or molest another person. Such behaviors may include, but are not limited to: physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse and/or verbal abuse.

abuser/abusive partner/batterer: a person who engages in a pattern of coercive, exploitative and violent tactics against an intimate partner, in order to establish and maintain power, control and dominance over the partner.

advocacy: support that domestic violence programs offer to individual survivors. The support can include: 24-hour crisis hotline; crisis intervention; shelter; food; clothing; transportation; legal and medical assistance; accompaniment to court and other services; information and referrals; assistance with rent and utilities; support groups; therapy groups for abusers; and childcare and other children’s programming.

anger management class: an older term used to refer to what are now called Batterer’s Intervention programs. The name has been changed to reflect current understanding that abuse is not only about anger but about control issues with many different causes.

attorney: a person legally appointed or hired by a respondent or petitioner to represent her/him in legal matters. 

battering: all behaviors that harm, gain or maintain power and control over another person. These behaviors include physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as sexual exploitation and threats, or any other act that curtails an individual’s personal power and/or creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

case management: the coordination of services on behalf of an individual by an advocate.

child abuse: Maltreatment or neglect of a child, including non-accidental physical injuries, sexual abuse/exploitation, severe or general neglect, unjustifiable mental suffering/emotional abuse, and willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child.

child support: Financial support paid by a parent to help support their child or children who do not live with them.

Child Support Enforcement Agency: an agency authorized to locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity and establish and enforce child support orders. It was established by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and exists in 50 states and four territories, as well as several Native American tribes.

civil standby: When a law enforcement agency comes to a location (normally the home shared by the protected person and restrained person) to keep the peace while one party obtains property from the other.

coercion: when one person forces or attempts to force another to think or act in a different way. Examples include, but are not limited to: threatening to report the victim to Child and Family Services or police, forcing a victim to drop charges against the batterer and/or forcing a victim to participate in or commit illegal activities.

common law marriage/partner: a prior intimate/dating partner of your current intimate/dating partner, or current intimate/dating partner of your former intimate/dating partner (for example: the old boyfriend or girlfriend of your current boyfriend or girlfriend).

confidentiality: Advocates from domestic abuse programs are bound by state and federal guidelines regarding the release of information. Advocates will not acknowledge anyone’s presence or participation in a local domestic abuse program or shelter without written permission from the domestic abuse survivor to release information. State laws give staff at domestic abuse programs legal protection from being forced to testify about anyone seeking services without a confidentiality waiver from the domestic abuse survivor.

continuance:  a judge can reschedule the case to a later hearing date; if there is a temporary protection order (TPO) it can usually be extended until that date. Even if a case is continued, the petitioner must appear at every court date so that the case is not dismissed.

court specialist: family court clerks that look over requests for temporary or emergency orders (called ex parte orders) before the judge sees them. They also process fee waivers.

Crime Victims Compensation Program (CVC): a fund established to assist qualifying victims of violent crime and their families with crime-related expenses, including, but not limited to: costs related to counseling, funeral and burial, medical and mental health, emergency/temporary shelter and other costs as permitted by statute.

Crisis Center Inclusiveness statement:  the Crisis Center values the individual diversity of all employees, volunteers, clients, and supporters of our violence prevention programs.  Differences and distinguishing factors provide experiences, viewpoints, and ideas that can strengthen and enrich our work.  Our goal is to create an evolving environment that is inclusive, respectful, and equitable, and to welcome and be accessible to all populations of clients in order to accomplish the mission of the Crisis Center.

dating violence:  intimate partner violence (IPV) between people who are dating. The abusive behaviors between dating partners include verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, financial and/or electronic harassment. The genders or sexual orientation of the parties doesn’t matter.

defendant:  The person accused of a crime in a criminal case.

Dependency and Neglect: a legal process specific allegations child abuse.

District Attorney: An attorney who works for the people of the State of Colorado. They bring criminal charges against people who violate the law and then prosecute the resulting case in court.

domestic violence or domestic abuse: a pattern of coercive behaviors, used by a batterer to gain or maintain power and control over another person with whom the batterer is in an intimate, dating or family relationship. These behaviors may include, but are not limited to: physical and sexual abuse, direct or implied threats, emotional and psychological abuse, intimidation, verbal abuse, isolation, stalking, financial control, spiritual abuse, threatened or actual use of weapons, destruction of property and/or harm to the victim’s family, pets or others.

Domestic Violence Coalition: a statewide nonprofit organization committed to ending domestic abuse by promoting social change through public policy advocacy. The coalition provides domestic abuse shelters with training and technical assistance that coordinates community responses to domestic violence and systems-based advocacy within the legal, healthcare, homeless and social services communities. It also provides information and referral services to survivors.

domestic violence program: a community-based nonprofit organization committed to providing free and confidential services to domestic abuse victims and their children by providing crisis support, safe shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and information and referral services.

domestic violence services:  describes the range of support domestic violence survivors receive from domestic violence programs. The support can include: 24-hour crisis hotline; crisis intervention; shelter; food; clothing; transportation; legal and medical assistance; accompaniment to court and other services; information and referrals; assistance with rent and utilities; support groups; therapy groups for abusers; and childcare and other children’s programming.

domestic violence shelter: a safe facility that provides safety and protection from abuse, advocacy services, and resources to create a non-violent life.

domestic violence victim and/or domestic abuse survivor: someone who has experienced verbal, emotional, financial, physical or sexual abuse.

dual arrest: when a police officer arrests both parties in a domestic violence situation because the officer is unable to determine the predominant aggressor or believes both parties have committed a crime.

economic/financial abuse: when a batterer uses finances to establish and maintain power and control over a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to: controlling a partner’s finances, taking the victim’s money without permission, giving the victim an allowance, prohibiting/limiting a victim’s access to bank accounts or credit card, denying the victim the right to work and/or sabotaging a victim’s credit.

elder abuse: physical abuse (including sexual), financial abuse, neglect, abandonment, isolation, abduction, treatment that causes physical harm or pain or mental suffering, and withholding of things or services by a care custodian of an elderly person. (adapted from the Elder Abuse Task Force)

emotional/psychological abuse: when a batterer uses emotions, self esteem and/or a person’s mental state to establish and maintain power and control over a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to: putting the victim down or making the victim feel bad about her/himself, calling the victim names, playing mind games, making the victim think s/he is crazy, making the victim feel guilty and/or humiliating the victim.

Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP): a form of therapy where horses are used to assist the individual in learning about themselves in order to gain emotional health

ex parte order: an order that the judge makes after meeting with, or reading legal forms submitted by, only one party in a case (an ex parte request).

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR):  an innovative clinical treatment that has helped over a million trauma survivors. By activating past information processing system of the brain, people can achieve their therapeutic goals at a rapid rate, with recognizable changes that don’t weaken or disappear over time.

family violence: a general term which includes the categories of child abuse, elder abuse, dependent adult abuse, domestic violence and animal cruelty.

Filial Therapy: the relationships between a parent and child can be damaged for a variety of reasons when domestic violence occurs. Filial Therapy can initiate the process of repairing the relationship between the child and parent.

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): a person appointed by the Court in a case to represent the best interests of a child in legal proceedings.

intimate partner: current or former spouses (husband/wife/domestic partner), boyfriends, and girlfriends of any sexual orientation.

intimidation: when one person uses threats to cause another person fear and/or coerce her/him into doing something. Examples include, but are not limited to: making someone afraid by using looks, actions, gestures and/or a loud voice, destroying property, abusing pets and/or displaying weapons.

isolation: when one person uses friends, family and social networks to establish and maintain power and control over a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to: controlling where a victim goes, who s/he talks to, what s/he wears, and/or who s/he sees.

lethality assessment: an analysis done by an advocate, law enforcement officer, probation officer or counselor to determine the level of risk of homicide for a victim of domestic violence based on recent and changing behaviors of the batterer.

non-consensual sexual behavior: unwanted sexual (verbal and physical) behavior that includes but is not limited to: sexual penetration – oral, anal, vaginal, breasts, or any other part, stroking, licking, kissing, sucking, using objects or body parts forcing to view sexual activities or materials, prostitution, participating in the making of pornographic materials.

partner:  individuals may refer to their partner as their girlfriend/boyfriend, lover, roommate, life partner, wife/husband, spouse or significant other.

perpetrator/abuser/batterer: a person carrying out domestic violence behaviors

Petitioner: a person who presents a petition to the court; person who files legal forms to start a court case.

physical abuse: when an abuser uses her/his body or other objects to cause harm or injury to establish and maintain power and control over a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to: hitting, kicking, biting, pushing, scratching, slapping, strangling, beating, using a weapon against another person, punching, throwing, burning, poisoning, stabbing and shooting.

plaintiff: the person or company that files civil action against another. 

police department: a law enforcement agency.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): a psychological disorder that can occur in an individual after s/he has suffered one or many traumatic events (such as domestic violence) and is characterized by flashbacks, avoidance of things that may trigger a memory of the traumatic event and a significantly heightened state of alert.

power and control: the overarching goal an abuser seeks within intimate partner abuse.

Power and Control Wheel: a tool many advocates use to illustrate abusive tactics and behaviors used by batterers against victims 

predominant aggressor: the person who poses the most serious ongoing threat in a domestic violence situation.

probation:  when a defendant who has been found guilty of a crime is released into the community and must follow certain conditions, such as jail time, paying a fine, doing community service or attending a drug treatment program. Violation of the conditions can result in incarceration.

pro se: an individual representing him or herself in a legal matter.

Protection Order: Common term used to refer to the existence of an Emergency, Criminal Protective Order and/or Civil/Family law Restraining Order.  Depending upon the legal process, these orders can be temporary or permanent. This order can mandate the abuser to not contact, harass or come within a certain distance of the petitioner and/or other persons named in the order.

public assistance: money granted from the state or federal government to a person or family for living expenses. Eligibility is based on need.

public defender: a lawyer who works for a state or local agency representing clients accused of a crime who cannot afford to pay

Respondent:  if you are the person that answers the original Petition, you are the Respondent. Even if you later file an action of your own in that case, you are still the Respondent for as long as the case is open.

restitution:  when a defendant/abuser/restrained person is ordered by the court to repay financial loss a victim suffered as a result of something the Defendant/Respondent did.

Restrained Party/Person: in a protection order, the person who ordered to not have contact or harass the protected party.

safe housing: emergency, transitional or permanent shelter/housing that is confidentially located.

safety plan: a set of responses and strategies that individuals may use to maintain physical and emotional safety in a variety of situations, including living with an abusive partner, escaping abuse at work, attending school and attending court. The plans are specifically personalized to fit the needs of women experiencing abuse and are used to assess safety and legality risks and evaluate options. 

secondary trauma/vicarious trauma: a negative impact on individuals who provide crisis and/or on-going support to victims of trauma and or stark misfortune.

self sufficiency: the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction from public entities for survival.

Service of process: delivery of legal papers to a respondent notifying the respondent of legal action taken against her/him. Any person over age 18 can serve the documents as long as s/he is not a party to the case.

sexual assault: any unwanted sexual contact or activity forced on one person by another.

sexual abuse: any non-consenting or sexually exploitative behaviors, (verbal or physical). Any single sexual act performed without consent may constitute sexual abuse. Previous consent does not imply current consent.


sexual exploitation: a sexual act, interaction or relationship occurring when one individual is in the care or under the authority of another. Sexual exploitation involves the abuse of trust and/or power in a relationship in order to engage in a sexual interaction or relationship. Positions of authority, care or guardianship include but are not limited to:  parents, teachers, therapists, attorneys, mentors, counselors, advocates

spiritual/religious abuse: when a batterer uses spirituality or religion to establish and maintain power and control over a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to: controlling the partner’s ability to practice her/his own religion, forcing the partner to convert or practice another religion against her/his will and/or using the spiritual or religious environment, leader and/or congregation to influence a victim’s behavior.

spousal abuse: a narrow term describing abuse between husbands and wives. Currently it is more often called domestic violence or intimate partner violence to include other types of intimate relationships.

stalking: when one person pursues, follows or harasses another person against her/his wishes. Examples include, but are not limited to: repeated, unwanted phone calls, following a victim, sending unwanted gifts, destroying or vandalizing a victim’s property, repeated threats and/or tracking a victim’s online activity.  This can include cyber stalking (via computers and GPS).

Status Hearing: in divorce or legal separation cases, both parties appear before a judge, who sets a timeline for how the case will proceed.

teen dating violence: the use of power, control and abuse between teens who are dating.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF): Assistance payments made on behalf of children who do not have the financial support of one of their parents by reason of death, disability or continued absence from the home. The program provides parents with job preparation, work and support services to help them become self-sufficient.

Temporary Protection Order (TPO): a temporary court order that usually requires a respondent (offender) to stay away from and have no contact with the petitioner (victim) and directs the respondent not to commit any criminal offenses against the petitioner; the order can also specify custody and/or visitation with children, require the respondent to vacate the household; and/or relinquish firearms or other property.

therapist, professional counselor or social worker: a distinct group of professions with national standards for education, training and clinical practice. Clinical mental health counselors are highly-skilled professionals who provide flexible, consumer-oriented therapy. They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical, problem-solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution.

threats: an expression that demonstrates the intention of one person to inflict pain or injury on another person. Examples include, but are not limited to: verbal threats such as threats to leave, harm, commit suicide or physical threats, such as a raised hand, fist or gesture.

transitional housing: shelter and/or housing for victims of domestic violence and their children that may last up to two years.

trauma: experiencing an event that causes injury or stress to a person’s physical or psychological well-being.

Trauma-Informed Systems of Care: are those in which all components of a given service system have been reconsidered and evaluated in the light of a basic understanding of the role that violence plays in the lives of people seeking mental health and addictions services.

verbal abuse: when a batterer uses words to establish and maintain power and control over a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to: the use of language to manipulate, control, ridicule, insult, humiliate, belittle, vilify and/or show disrespect and disdain to another.

victim: a person who is harmed, physically, emotionally or financially, or killed by another; a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action; the person against whom a crime has been committed.

Workplace Violence Restraining Order: a restraining order a business applies for if it needs protection for its worker(s).