Chris Becker

Department of Justice changes definition of domestic violence

Mar 13, 2019
National Domestic Violence Hotline

“The term domestic violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim.”

That is Heidi Bott. She is a psychotherapist specializing in domestic, gender based and sexual violence at the YWCA of West Central Michigan. 

Unlike the definition the Obama Administration implemented, this one applies only to individuals who can prove to have experienced physical violence that led to a criminal charge – but Bott says its not always that simple. 

Mariano Avila / WGVU

 Let’s start with some terms: In Michigan, the crime is “Ethnic Intimidation.” But yelling racial slurs at someone isn’t enough to be charged with a crime. Kent County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Chris Becker, explains what the “ethnic” part of the term means.

“The defendant has to specifically harass somebody because of their race, gender, color, national origin, or religion.”

Beyond the targeted group or individual, the type of aggression also matters.