How can I recognize signs of intimate partner violence (IPV)?

Health & Wellness Mental Health

This post discusses intimate partner violence. If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the US National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Anonymous, confidential help is available 24/7.

IPV is abuse or aggression in a romantic relationship. IPV can happen to anyone, and it is usually about power and control. IPV includes many tactics, like physical, emotional, and financial abuse. The abuse usually starts small and becomes more frequent and worse with time.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is intentional abusive behavior where one partner maintains consistent power and control over the other. Although we may not realize it, most of us know someone who is experiencing IPV. Abuse affects people of all ages, economic status, genders, sexual identities, races, religions, etc. IPV doesn’t have to be physical violence – it can also involve methods of psychological, financial, and emotional control.

In the United States, it’s estimated that about 10 million individuals experience IPV annually (see NCADV – National Statistics). Many of them experience repeated acts of abuse over time.

You can learn to recognize the different forms of IPV for yourself and for friends and loved ones:

➡️Physical – Hitting, pushing, throwing objects, hitting walls, threatening with a weapon, etc., even if it doesn’t leave a bruise or injury

➡️Sexual – any coercive, unwanted, or rough sexual activity

➡️Reproductive – not allowing the use of birth control (e.g., hiding or destroying birth control pills, refusing to use a condom), forcing a partner to get pregnant or to get an abortion

➡️Emotional/psychological – moving too fast in a relationship or being over-attentive (love-bombing), verbal abuse, threats, humiliation, controlling, isolating their partner from friends and family

➡️Financial – preventing partner from having a job, not allowing access to bank account, refusing to provide money or basic necessities

➡️Stalking – following or harassing the partner, tracking their movements, not allowing privacy in healthcare visits, sending unwanted or threatening voicemails or messages

Although IPV survivors can suffer from many forms of violence and not all leave visible signs, the majority of them have some form of physical injury. In fact, about 1 in 5 homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner (see NCADV statistics). The effects of IPV can be long lasting and result in psychological distress, cardiac, reproductive, abdominal, and neurological problems, and sexually transmitted diseases.

A major challenge is that intimate partner violence can go unnoticed in the beginning. Some early signs of abuse you can be mindful of are: unexplained injuries, loss of self esteem, substance abuse, self harm, anxiety, depression. Many of these signs are not unique to IPV. But when they occur suddenly or several occur together, IPV may be present. The earlier the survivor gets help, the easier it is to break the cycle of violence.

IPV can look different in each relationship and among different communities. We will discuss this more in our next post. IPV is an epidemic, but it is preventable. There are resources for survivors and ways you can help, and knowing the signs and being able to identify IPV is the first step.

➡️ If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Anonymous, confidential help is available 24/7. @NationalDomesticViolenceHotline

In the UK, call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247

Stay safe. Stay well.

Those Nerdy Girls


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