In honor of domestic violence awareness month, we are focusing on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). IPV is violence and / or aggression within an intimate partner relationship. This includes any sexual, physical, psychological abuse and/or stalking. These acts of violence or aggression vary in terms of how often they happen and how frightening and violent they become. Domestic violence affects both women and men who are in an intimate relationship with a woman, man or both. It happens no matter how young or old you are, your race, culture, ethnicity, religion or whether you have some form of disability.
Intimate partner violence can include any of the following, but it can also be other forms of aggression and/or violence:
Physical: pushing, biting, hitting, grabbing, choking/strangling, slapping, kicking, restraining, shaking, and/or hair pulling.
Sexual: attempting or actually having sexual contact against the wishes of their partner, or when their partner cannot consent due to illness or alcohol use.
Threatening physical and/or sexual abuse: striking fear into their partner though looks, words, brandishing weapons or any other type of action.
Emotional and/or psychological abuse: bullying, name calling, putting their partner down, keeping them from family and friends, humiliating them and controlling their every move, including what they wear.
Stalking: harassing, following, spying on and/or any unwanted contact that strikes discomfort and/or fear into their current or former partner.
Intimate partner violence might be just one event or it can go on for many years. Some people might only experience one form of aggression or violence while others are subject to many forms of aggression and/or violence. Under no circumstance does anyone deserve to be treated like this.
Red Flags for IVP
Relationships are generally complicated. When domestic violence is occurring in a relationship it can be confusing and overwhelming. It is sometimes hard to know if you’re experiencing IPV.
Questions to ask yourself if you have concerns about your relationship:
Does your partner have control of all the money? Control your schooling or where and when you work?
Do they prevent you from keeping in touch with or seeing family and friends?
Do they threaten and question you about where you go, what you do and whom you see?
Does he or she put you down, put the blame on you for their abuse, and/or make you feel ashamed or guilty?
Do they threaten to hurt you physically or someone you love? Threaten to smear your good name? Threaten to take away your children?
Are you terrified of your partner because they break things? Punch holes in the walls? Threaten to or actually hurt your pets?
Does your partner hurt you physically or have they tried to in the past?
Are you being forced to engage in sex against your will?
Does he or she threaten to kill you or take his or her own life if you end the relationship?
If you answered honestly and said, “yes” to any of the above questions, you are at risk and may need interpersonal violence help. Your safety is certainly at risk, not to mention your health and even your life. Interpersonal violence help is there for you when you are ready. Hopefully it won’t be too late.
Intimate Partner Violence is Not Uncommon
Unfortunately, you are definitely not alone in this situation. Domestic violence happens to people of all walks of life, no matter how educated they are or how much money they have. Studies show that 27% of women in the U.S. and 11% of men claim they have been harmed by physical or sexual violence, or from being stalked by an intimate partner at one time or another in their lives.
The Effects of Intimate Partner Violence
You may not know this, but the effect intimate partner violence can have can be far reaching. The effects can go way beyond the threatened or actual aggression or violence. Most of the studies have examined the female victims of intimate partner violence, however the findings are considered just as true for men.
Some of the effects of intimate partner violence:
Women who experience domestic violence have more problems with their health. For example, they are five times as apt to suffer from coronary heart disease and twice as apt to suffer from any type of chronic illness.
Women who experience IPV are twice as apt to have chronic back or neck pain or suffer from stomach problems like irritable bowel syndrome.
Domestic violence increases your risk of being exposed to a STD, like chlamydia and HIV.
Women who experience IPV tend to have more female-oriented health problems.
When you experience domestic violence you tend to have more mood-related problems. IPV can lead to worry and anxiety, depression, feelings of being worthless, an emotional numbness, like difficulty feeling your emotions or connecting emotionally with others.
Domestic violence can lead victims to use and/or abuse drugs and/or alcohol, or have suicidal thoughts and/or behavior.
Victims are more prone to feeling “on edge,” “stressed out” or feel shame and/or guilt.
Your physician may evaluate you for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and/or substance abuse.
Being the victim of IPV might affect your living situation, your job or career. For example, women who’ve experienced domestic violence tend to have a more difficult time keeping a job and be more apt to become homeless.
Some victims of IPV can feel unsafe or uncomfortable in new relationships and/or find it difficult to trust people.
It is never easy to talk about this with others because it’s upsetting to relive these experiences, not to mention how embarrassing it is. But you must remember that this is not uncommon and you are never to blame.
If you are experiencing any of the adverse psychological, social or interpersonal effects of IPV, remember that intimate partner violence help is only a phone call away.