Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The term "intimate partner violence" describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples of any socioeconomic or racial background and does not require sexual intimacy.
IPV can take the form of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. Because it is more subtle than physical or sexual because, emotional abuse often goes less noticed or reported and includes name calling, put downs or telling a partner how to dress or act. Sexual abuse can occur in relationships even if a partner has at one time consented to one type of sexual act with that partner and consent must be given each time for each sexual act. Women aged 16-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal, physical intimate partner violence.
Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 2012.
- 25% of women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
- 40% of teenage girls ages 14-17, report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
- 15% of domestic violence victims are men.
- 1 in 3 high school students have been, or will be, involved in an abusive relationship.
- 30-50% of female high school students reported having already experienced teen dating violence.
- 68% of women raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.
Source: National Institute of Justice, 2003.
- What types of intimate partner violence are there?
- What are warning signs of an abusive person?
- What should I do if I'm being abused?
- My friend is being abused -- but why won't s/he leave the relationship?
- What can I do to help my friend?
- Emotional Abuse/Verbal Abuse : Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation or isolation.
- Stalking: Being repeatedly watched, followed or harassed.
- Financial Abuse: Using money or access to accounts to exert power and control over a partner.
- Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.
- Sexual Abuse: Any action that impacts a person's ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs,
- Digital Abuse: The use of technology such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated through technology.
- Past Abuse: an abuser may say, "I hit someone in the past, but s/he made me do it." An abusive person who minimizes what happened with a previous partner is likely to be violent with their current partner. Abusive behavior does not just go away; long-term counseling and a sincere desire to change are necessary.
- Threats of Violence or Abuse: threats can involve anything that is meant to control the victim. For example, "I'll tell your parents about your drug use if you don't do what I want." Healthy relationships do not involve threats, but an abusive person will try to excuse this behavior by saying that "everybody talks like that."
- Breaking Objects: an abuser may break things, beat on tables or walls or throw objects around or near the victim. This behavior terrorizes the victim and can send the message that physical abuse is the next step.
- Any Force During an Argument: an abuser may use force during arguments, including holding the victim down, physically restraining the victim from leaving the room, and pushing and shoving. For example, an abuser may hold a victim against the wall and say, "You're going to listen to me."
- Jealousy: an abuser will say that jealousy is a sign of love. In reality, jealousy has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. An abuser may question the victim about who they talk to or be jealous of time spent with other people. As the jealousy progresses, the abuser will call the victim frequently, stop by unexpectedly or monitor the victim's activities.
- Controlling Behavior: an abuser will claim that controlling behavior is out of concern for the victim's welfare. They will be angry if the victim is late and will frequently interrogate the victim. As this behavior gets worse, the abuser will control the victim's appearance and activities.
- Quick Involvement: an abuser will often pressure someone to make a commitment after a very short amount of time. The abuser comes on quickly, claiming "love at first sight," and will tell the victim flattering things such as "You're the only person I could ever love."
- Unrealistic Expectations: the abuser is dependent on the victim for everything and expects perfection. The victim is expected to take care of everything for the abuser, particularly all emotional support. The abuser will say things like, "You're the only person I need in my life."
- Isolation: the abuser will attempt to diminish and destroy the victim's support system. If a female victim has male friends, she is accused of being a "whore." If she has female friends, she is accused of being a "lesbian." If she is close to her family, she is accused of being "tied to the apron strings." The abuser will accuse people who are close to the victim of "causing trouble."
- Blames Others for Problems: abusers will rarely admit to the part they play in causing a problem. S/he will blame the victim for almost anything that goes wrong.
- Blames Others for Their Feelings: an abuser will tell the victim, "I hurt you because you made me mad, " or "You're hurting me when you don't do what I ask." Blaming the victim is a way of manipulating them and avoiding any responsibility.
It's important to know that violence/abuse is not likely to stop on its own -- episodes of violence usually become more frequent and more severe. Talk to someone you trust. It is important to break the silence. If you decide to leave the relationship, develop a safety plan. A safety plan can include asking a trusted friend for help, choosing a safe place to stay, and informing ODSD or BCPD of the abuser if the abuser is a student on campus. Click here for list of resources that can help.
- Fear: Your friend may be afraid of what will happen if they decide to leave the relationship. If your friend has been threatened by their partner, family or friends, they may not feel safe leaving.
- Believing Abuse is Normal: If your friend doesn’t know what a healthy relationship looks like, perhaps from growing up in an environment where abuse was common, they may not recognize that their relationship is unhealthy.
- Fear of Being Outed: If your friend is in same-sex relationship and has not yet come out to everyone, their partner may threaten to reveal this secret. Being outed may feel especially scary for young people who are just beginning to explore their sexuality.
- Embarrassment: It’s probably hard for your friend to admit that they’ve been abused. They may feel they’ve done something wrong by becoming involved with an abusive partner. They may also worry that their friends and family will judge them.
- Low Self-Esteem: If your friend’s partner constantly puts them down and blames them for the abuse, it can be easy for your friend to believe those statements and think that the abuse is their fault.
- Love: Your friend may stay in an abusive relationship hoping that their abuser will change. Think about it -- if a person you love tells you they’ll change, you want to believe them. Your friend may only want the violence to stop, not for the relationship to end entirely.
If you have friends or family members who are in unhealthy or abusive relationships, the most important thing you can do is be supportive and listen to them. Please don't judge! Understand that leaving an unhealthy or abusive relationship is never easy. Click here to learn how you can help.
Source: compiled from LoveIsRespect.org, Brown University's Health Education