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It is expressed in a range of harmful behaviours — from threats, to emotional maltreatment, to physical and sexual aggression.

While some forms of abusive behaviour, such as acts of physical assault, could result in charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, others, such as ridiculing or otherwise being verbally abusive, are harmful but not criminal offences.

Common Couple Violence is defined by Johnson as an intermittent use of violence against a partner with the intent to control the immediate situation.

The use of violence is conflict-based and, while it reoccurs, it does not usually escalate to severe violence.

All three forms of abuse — physical, sexual and emotional — can coexist, or the abuse can be characterized by any one of the three.