Mouvement pour l'Égalité entre les Femmes et les Hommes

Agissons ensemble contre les violences au sein du couple

IPV COACT : Pour une prévention des violences domestiques


Lexicon of words of the IPV COACT project on domestic violence

Sexual offences

A sexual assault can be defined as any sexual assault committed with violence, coercion, threat or surprise. These include kissing in the neck, kissing by surprise, touching on the breasts, thighs, buttocks, lower abdomen, etc.


The Istanbul Convention defines sexual assault as other acts of a sexual nature (other than rape) committed intentionally against others.

Coercive control

Coercive control refers to a continuum of repeated violence, exploitation, humiliation and manipulation by the perpetrator to establish and maintain dominance over the victim and to deprive the victim of their rights on an ongoing basis. These behaviors have the consequence of depriving the victim of resources essential to his autonomy as well as to the construction and expression of his individuality and personality. This is a fundamental attack on the freedom of others.


Thus, coercive control encompasses any deliberate act or behavioral pattern of violence, control, coercion and/or threat used, over a period of time, by an individual against a person, one. e (ex-)partner, in order to make this person dependent, subordinate and/ or deprive him of his freedom of action.


Coercive control is a broader concept than psychological violence insofar as it can be associated with all forms of violence against women (physical, sexual and economic, social, psychological, etc.) by being coupled with control strategies (isolation, harassment, low self-esteem, humiliation, threat, denial of own perceptions, etc.). In other words, it focuses on the pattern of an oppressive and repetitive behavior of the perpetrator towards his victim and/or the family, in order to impose his power and exercise his control and cause psychological damage.


Not all tactics are acts of violence or criminal acts, often they are small actions that may even seem trivial, but the purpose of the accumulation of these acts is to increase the grip, control over the victim that the aggressor has.


This pattern of behavior aims to make the person dependent, in particular by isolating him from any support, depriving him of his independence and regulating his behaviors by microregulations of everyday life.


Criticality is the probability of occurrence of an event representing a serious danger to the integrity of a person. (Criticality = probability of occurrence X dangerousness)

Discrimination against women

The terms « discrimination against wome » refers to any distinction, exclusion or restriction based on sex that has the effect or purpose of compromising or destroying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, on the basis of equality between men and women, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural and civil fields or in any other field.


Relationship of domination, manipulation and abuse, using psychological violence (devalorization, isolation of the entourage, control, threats, etc.), or even physical violence or sexual abuse, alternating with signs of affection, This has the effect of making a person vulnerable (spouse, for example) and keeping them in a state of psychological and/or material dependence.

Protection factor

All characteristics and events that can have a regulating, soothing effect or that mitigate domestic violence or the likelihood of being a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence.

Risk factor

All characteristics and events that lead to a higher probability of being a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence, or that increase the probability of accentuating the dynamics of domestic violence.


It is important to emphasize that these factors do not necessarily have a direct effect, it can be indirect and multifactorial. It is not only the addition of risk factors that determines the level of criticality.

Precipitating factor

All events and characteristics that can lead to a rapid deterioration of the dynamics of violence, or can trigger a violent episode.


Femicide refers to the murder or murder of a woman simply because she is a woman, but can also refer to any death given to a woman or girl. However, femicide differs from homicide because it is a crime committed under specific circumstances. Indeed, most cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners and are the result of long abuses committed in the home, threats or intimidating acts, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or resources than their spouse or former spouse.


Gender refers to socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributions that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment refers to any form of unwanted, verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of a sexual nature, with the object or effect of violating the dignity of a person, particularly when such behaviour creates an intimidating environment, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. Under the Istanbul Convention, Parties are required to make sexual harassment a criminal offence or subject it to other legal sanctions.


Interdisciplinarity is the art of bringing together people or teams from various scientific disciplines. The interest is to enrich the approaches and solutions by promoting creativity and coordination of action, to facilitate the achievement of a common goal by confronting different approaches to the same problem.


Risk Assessment Tool – College of Attorneys General guidelines to generalize the use of a front-line risk assessment tool for violence in couples by police and prosecutors.

The Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention is based on a victim-centred approach.  It promotes respect and equality for all women and girls at risk of violence by providing practical tools to ensure their safety and empowerment.


The Convention on the Prevention and Response to Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence is a major human rights instrument that establishes comprehensive legal standards that guarantee the right of women to be free from violence. The result of the Council of Europe’s continuous efforts since the 1990s to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, this European legal instrument was negotiated by its 47 member states and adopted on 7 April 2011 by its Committee of Ministers. It is also called the Istanbul Convention of the name of the city where it was opened for signature on May 11, 2011. Three years later, on August 1, 2014, it came into force after its 10th ratification. Since then, all governments that have ratified this treaty are bound by its obligations.

The Istanbul Convention recognizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women. It covers various forms of gender-based violence against women, which refers to violence against women because they are women or violence that disproportionately affects them. Gender-based violence against women differs from other types of violence because in this case, the fact that it is perpetrated against women is both the cause and the result of unequal power relations between women and men that relegate women to a lower status in the public and private spheres, and help make violence against them acceptable.


Under the convention, the use of the term “gender” is intended to recognize how harmful attitudes and perceptions of women’s roles and behaviours in society play a role in perpetuating violence against women. This terminology does not replace the biological definition of “sex”, nor that of “women” and “men”, but aims to emphasize how inequalities, stereotypes and violence do not arise from biological differences, but preconceived and harmful ideas about how women should be or behave, which have the effect of limiting women’s ability to act freely. Therefore, the convention places the elimination of violence against women and domestic violence in the broader context of promoting equality between women and men.

Domestic violence/ domestic violence

Europe :

“Domestic violence” means all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or home or between former or current spouses or partners, regardless of whether the offender shares or has shared the same home as the victim.

Belgium :

“Intimate partner violence is a set of behaviours, acts, and attitudes of one partner or ex-partner aimed at controlling and dominating the other.  They include verbal, physical, sexual, economic, repeated or repeated assaults, threats or constraints that undermine the integrity of the other and even their socio-professional integration.

This violence affects not only the victim, but also other family members, including children. They are a form of domestic violence.  It appears that in the vast majority, the perpetrators of this violence are men and the victims, women.  Intimate relationship violence is the manifestation, in the private sphere, of unequal power relations between women and men still at work in our society.”

Gendered violence

The term « gender-based violence against women » refers to any violence against a woman because she is a woman or disproportionately affects women.

The term “violence against women” should be understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women, and refers to all acts of gender-based violence that cause, or are likely to cause, for women, damage or suffering of a physical, sexual, psychological or economic nature, including the threat of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether in public or private life.


Gender-based violence and harassment refers to violence and harassment against a person on the basis of sex or gender or having a disproportionate effect on a person of a given sex or gender, and includes sexual harassment.


Gender-based violence (GBV), sometimes also called gender-based violence, refers to all harmful acts directed against an individual or group of individuals because of their gender identity. It is rooted in gender inequality, abuse of power and harmful norms. This phrase is mainly used to highlight the fact that structural, gender-based power imbalances place women and girls in a position where they are at greater risk of multiple forms of violence. And even if they are the ones who suffer disproportionately from GBV, they are not the only ones and men and boys can also be the target.


Violence against women and girls is defined as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or may result in, physical, sexual or mental suffering or disorders. This definition includes the threat of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether in public or private life. Similarly, violence against women and girls includes, but is not limited to, physical, sexual and psychological violence within the family or community at large that is perpetrated or tolerated by the state.

The cycle of violence

(explanations taken from )





Active reconcialitation strategy 

A theory, published by psychologist Léonor Walker in 1988, allows us to understand the cyclical notion of domestic violence. It enumerates four phases in the cycle of violence that can have a distinct temporality in each situation, for example for some couples the four phases will be aligned on a day, while for others it will be done over weeks or even months.


The honeymoon :

Everything is fine in the couple, everything is beautiful, we can observe a merger in some cases. These are the first moments of the couple or the moments that follow the phase of justification, where the author will set up an active reconciliation to make amends.


Power on :

A climate of tension is palpable in the couple. The victim will try by all means to lower and alleviate this tension. Very often, she does not know how to explain this tension with words, the victim and the children feel it without really knowing how to put the word tension on it.


The explosion or crisis :

The author explodes, attacks (not only on the physical plane, it can be a huge anger attack). During this explosion, the author exceeds the limits of the consensus (conscious or not) of what can be done or said in the couple. For each couple it will be different. The victim is scared, sometimes flabbergasted, and experiences this explosion. They enter or can enter survival mode.


La justification/Guilt :
The couple accepts justifications for the explosion that took place. These justifications are given by the author. They often accuse and hold the victim accountable, hence the preference for the term guilt rather than justification. However, the victim will also try to understand this explosion and she will also try to justify it in order to understand it, to explain it, and thus be able to put in place alternatives if it were to happen again. The justifications for the explosion are accepted by both partners. We will see later that when the victim no longer justifies them, the situation becomes active and that is a risk factor.

The period of justification is followed by a time when the author will put in place active reconciliation strategies. It is also an important step in the cycle, it is in these moments that the myth of the couple will often be replayed in order to return to a honeymoon.

In each of these phases, we find a particular behavior and feeling that vary according to the protagonist.

The Belgian National Action Plan (NAP)

National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence 2021 – 2025.

The Council of Ministers adopted on 26 November 2021 the new National Action Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence (NAP) 2021-2025 presented by the Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Mrs Sarah Schlitz.

This ambitious NAP builds on the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, said Istanbul Convention and the recommendations addressed to Belgium concerning the implementation of this Convention. It comprises 201 measures under the responsibility of the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions.

The different types of violence

Verbal abuse : Use words intended to hurt the victim (orally or in writing).

This form of violence can take place through information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Psychological violence : Set of behaviours that affect the other at a psychological level..

Europe :

It is the fact, when committed intentionally, to seriously damage the psychological integrity of a person by coercion or threats.

France :

Psychological violence consists of words or gestures that aim to destabilize or hurt the other but also to submit it, to control it so as to keep a position of superiority.

Belgium :

It is a set of behaviors, words, acts and gestures that aims to undermine the psychic or mental integrity of the other. This violence directly attacks the identity, self-esteem and self-confidence of the person who undergoes it. Psychological violence can take different forms: indifference, devaluation, control, insults, intimidation, surveillance, rejection, cutting off the other from his network, threats, deprivation of affection, limitation of access to information, prohibition to leave, excessive demands, guilt, humiliation, preventing access to work, provocation, etc.

physical violence : Any physical contact made with the intention of assaulting, dominating and scaring the other.


Sexual violence : Any gesture with sexual connotation issued without the consent of the other. Any imposed sexual act, any forced sexual practice (by blackmail, ruse, harassment, etc.). This form of violence can also take place through ICTs.

Violence against object : Any violent gesture made against an object that is intended to intimidate or harm the other (including attacking the property that is dear to him).

Economic violence : Control of the finances of the other, that is to say control his money, his expenses, his sources of income, his means of payment, etc.

Social control : Control of the friendships, family and professional relationships of the other, monitor or prohibit certain associations, isolate the other, reduce its contacts with the outside world. This form of violence can also be done through ICTs.

Overall control, surveillance of the victim in general : Monitor the actions of the other, including using ICT (for example, via geolocation, photos, calls, etc.). Notably control the appearance of the other.

Forcible confinement : Forcing the other person to remain at home or in a specified place, through the use of force, logistical means, threats or psychological violence.

Excessive jealousy : Experiencing excessive jealousy towards people who have contact with their (former) partner.

Animal Abuse and Threats to Animals : Using or threatening to physically abuse animals.

As described above, different forms of violence can occur through new information and communication technologies (ICTs). They are therefore identified as cyberviolence. Major attention should be paid to this, because these, although they occur in a virtual context, are harmful to the victim and have a real impact on her.


Multidisciplinarity involves orchestrating the work of different disciplines. It is the networking, the different partners, in their respective mandates, work side by side with the same objective and possibly communicate about their work.

Process of Conjugal Domination (PCD)

The Process of Conjugal Domination (PDC) is a systemic analysis that highlights the mechanisms of coercive control from one spouse to the other, systemic analysis that allows to understand how this system is set up, structure, perpetuates itself by specifying the strategies of the perpetrator and the responses of the victims. This makes it possible to identify the dynamics of couples where the risk is significant. It is also used to determine the level of victimization of victims (learned disability, ability to mobilize resources, etc.).

This theory focuses on the different people present in and around the violent relationship and connects them with each other. Concretely, the PDC links the author alias the dominant person, the victim alias the person who is the subject of the domination attempts, as well as the social networks that surround the two. By social network, we mean the primary network (family, friends, etc.) and the secondary network (aid networks, police, justice).

Moreover this theory is also interested in the socialization of actors and actresses, that is to say in their learning of the norms and codes of society throughout their lives. This theory proposes a global and systemic view of domestic violence and seeks to read domestic violence as a dynamic and evolutionary process.


Any act, gesture, visual representation, oral or written speech, practice or behaviour based on the idea that a person or group of persons is inferior because of their sex, committed in the public or private sphere, online or offline, with the object or effect of :

  1. to undermine the dignity or inherent rights of a person or group of persons; or
  2. cause physical, sexual, psychological or socio-economic harm or suffering to a person or group of persons; or
  3. create an environment that is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive; or
  4. to impede the emancipation and full realization of the human rights of a person or group of persons; or
  5. maintain and reinforce gender stereotypes.

Sexism and sexist behaviours cause physical, sexual, psychological or socio-economic harm and impact different parts of the population differently. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by such behaviours. Sexism and sexist behaviour is an obstacle to the empowerment and promotion of women and girls; eliminating sexism and sexist behaviour would benefit everyone: women, girls, men and boys.

In Belgium : Any gesture or behaviour that […] is clearly intended to express contempt for a person, because of his gender, or to consider him, for the same reason, as inferior or as essentially reduced to its sexual dimension and resulting in a serious attack on its dignity.

A COL (Belgium)

The College of the Public Prosecutor issues circulars containing guidelines on the management of the Public Prosecutor. These guidelines are binding on the attorneys general at the courts of appeal, the federal prosecutor and all members of the Crown who are under their supervision and direction.


A sexual assault can be defined as any sexual assault committed with violence, coercion, threat or surprise. These include kissing in the neck, kissing by surprise, touching on the breasts, thighs, buttocks, lower abdomen, etc.


The Istanbul Convention defines sexual assault as other acts of a sexual nature (other than rape) committed intentionally against others.

Je m'abonne à la newsletter

* Champs requis