Intimate Partner Violence: top facts
‘I’m sorry! I love you and I promise it won’t ever happen again.’ Until it does… Intimate partner violence (IPV), is one most common forms of violence against women. As many as 3 in 4 have experienced it at some point in their lives.
What is IPV?
Any form of violence against your partner, whether it’s sexual, physical or emotional, is considered IPV. Controlling behavior, for example always wanting to know where you are and who you are with, or keeping you from friends and family, is also part of it. Often, if a partner is violent, it will be a combination of several types. So someone may be forcing their partner to have sex, but also abusing them emotionally.
How many people are affected by IPV?
As many 3 out of every 4 women have experienced IPV in their lifetime, and up to half of all women have faced severe violence. It’s difficult to get an exact number, though, as IPV is one of the most underreported crimes.
Some people are even more at risk; for example, people with disabilities.
Who is most affected by IPV?
While violence can occur in any kind of relationship, women in heterosexual partnerships are the most common victims. That does not mean that men can’t be victims of violence in their relationships, or that there will be no such issues in same-sex relationships.
Are some people more likely to become violent?
Yes. People, especially men, who have experienced violence in their own families, who have personality disorders, or who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse are more likely to be abusive toward their partners.
Within a relationship, fighting a lot and money issues mean there could be a higher risk of violence, as well as men being more dominant and/or having more than one partner.
What are the consequences of IPV?
All kinds of injuries are obvious physical signs. Bruises, bleeding, broken bones, just to name a few. There is also a higher risk of getting STDs such as HIV and unintended pregnancies. But of course, the victim’s mental health can also be affected; depression, poor self-esteem, eating and sleeping disorders and even suicidal thoughts are common.
And the consequences don’t have to be immediate: it can take years for them to show.
Why stay in a violent relationship?
For an outsider, it can be difficult to understand why someone would stay in a violent relationship. But leaving is never easy, and especially not in a situation like that. The victim might be afraid of revenge, or may be financially dependent on their partner. Or maybe they want to stay for the children. Or the violent partner has promised over and over that it won’t happen again. And you want to believe them.
When do women leave?
Thankfully, many women will eventually leave their abusive partners. The most common reasons include violence that is getting worse over time, that the abuse is affecting children or other family members, or, eventually accepting that the violent person won’t change.
How can IPV be prevented?
No one intervention on its own will work to prevent abusive relationships. Many things need to happen to achieve some changes. To name a few, it’s important to talk about IPV, in schools for example. Have TV, radio and internet campaigns as well. Put strict laws into place, and make things easier for victims (think fast-tracked divorces, restraining orders and no issues with custody).
Preventing IPV starts with all of us: don’t look away when you see someone abusing their partner; don’t accept or dismiss violence. And most importantly, never be violent yourself.
This article is based on a report by the World Health Organization.