Definitions of Domestic Violence - Puerto Rico

Date: January 2021

Defined in Domestic Violence Civil Laws

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, §§ 602; 631; 632; 635

'Domestic abuse' means a constant pattern of conduct involving physical force, psychological violence, intimidation, or persecution against a person by any person listed below to cause physical harm to their self, their property, or another's self or to cause him or her grave emotional harm.

'Psychological abuse' means a constant pattern of conduct to dishonor, discredit, or scorn personal worth; unreasonably limit access to common property; blackmail; isolate; deprive access to adequate food or rest; threaten deprivation of custody of sons or daughters; or destroy objects held in esteem by the person, except those that privately belong to the offender.

'Abuse' means the employment of physical force, psychological abuse, intimidation, or persecution to cause physical harm to the person or the property held in esteem by him or her, or to cause grave emotional harm.

'Aggravated abuse' means abuse committed under one of the following circumstances:

  • Spouses or cohabiters are separated or there is an order for protection excluding one of the parties from the residence.
  • Grave bodily harm is inflicted on the person.
  • It is committed with a lethal weapon under circumstances that do not indicate the intention of killing or maiming.
  • It is committed in the presence of minors.
  • It is committed after an order for protection or resolution has been issued against the person charged.
  • The person is induced, incited, or forced to be drugged with controlled substances or to become intoxicated with alcoholic beverages.
  • Child abuse is committed and simultaneously incurred.
  • It is committed against a pregnant woman.
  • It is committed against a person under age 16 and the aggressor is age 18 or older.

'Conjugal sexual assault' means to engage in a sexual relation without the consent of the spouse or former spouse.

Defined in Child Abuse Reporting and Child Protection Laws

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 444(s)

Minors also will be considered to be victims of abuse if the father, mother, or person responsible for the minor has engaged in acts that constitute domestic violence in the presence of minors, as defined in §§ 601, et seq., of this title.

Defined in Criminal Laws

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 33, § 4013

'Stalking' means a pattern of behavior of vigilance over a person; unwanted verbal or written communications sent repeatedly to a specific person; written, verbal, or implicit threats against a specific person; or repeated acts of vandalism directed to a specific person; or repeated harassment through words, gestures, or actions intended to intimidate, threaten, or pursue the victim or members of his or her family.

'Intimidate' means any repeated action or word that instills terror in the animus of a prudent and reasonable person to the effect that he or she or any member of the family could suffer harm personally, or of his or her property, and/or exert moral pressure on the animus of the person to perform an act against his or her will.

Persons Included in the Definition

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, §§ 602; 632; Tit. 33, § 4013

In civil law: The definition applies to the following persons:

  • A person's spouse or former spouse
  • The individual with whom a person cohabitates or has cohabitated
  • The individual with whom a person has or had a consensual relationship
  • The individual with whom a person has procreated a son or daughter

In criminal law: The term 'family' includes any of the following:

  • A spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, or cousin of the victim
  • Any other relative by consanguinity or affinity who is part of the family nucleus
  • A person who lives or has formerly cohabited with the victim as a couple or has been involved in a relationship as a paramour or lover
  • A person who resides or has resided in the same dwelling as the victim for at least 6 months before the acts constituting stalking are evident