Health Topics

Intimate Partner Violence: A Public Health Concern

Information for health professionals and all community members

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV), previously termed domestic violence, is a serious and overwhelming global public health concern. It has affected the lives of many victims and their loved ones, leading to detrimental health consequences, including:

  • emotional
  • psychological
  • physical
  • behavioral
  • societal
  • economic

IPV is prevalent in all backgrounds: cultural, socioeconomic, and religious entities. It is one of the most common forms of violence against women in the US and worldwide.

What can you do?

Build the knowledge and raise awareness:

  • Search and engage in policy-making events locally and nationally.
  • Give lectures in your communities, have you and your staff be aware.
  • Be alert as this can occur in any woman and occurs at all socioeconomic levels.
  • Post information about IPV and resources in your female only bathrooms and in health literature.

For healthcare providers, incorporate routine screening into your practice. Ask more than once. Don’t ignore the conversation.

  • Suspect IPV when injuries and illnesses do not match up with the history.
  • Offer resources provided by your community as well as nationally: National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE(7233).
  • Discuss safety planning with any at risk persons.
  • Work with social workers, community resources and police advocates and liaisons to link victims with help.

What is the definition of IPV?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines IPV as
“a pattern of assaultive behavior and coercive behavior that may include physical injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive isolation, stalking, deprivation, intimidation, and reproductive coercion…aimed at establishing control of one partner over the other.”

What are the 4 Main Types of IPV?

1. Physical Violence:

Slapping, hitting, kicking, beating, scratching, pushing, shoving, throwing, grabbing, biting, choking, shaking, aggressive hair pulling

2. Sexual Violence:

Forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual coercion

3. Stalking:

  • Repeated, unwanted phone calls, emails, or texts
  • Leaving cards, letters, flowers, or other items when the victim does not want them
  • Watching or following from a distance and spying
  • Approaching or showing up in places when the victim does not want to see them
  • Sneaking into the victim’s home or car and damaging the victim’s personal property
  • Harming or threatening the victim’s pet
  • Making threats to physically harm the victim

4. Psychological Aggression:

  • Expressive aggression - name calling, humiliating
  • Coercive control
  • Excessive monitoring of whereabouts
  • Threats of physical or sexual violence
  • Control of reproductive or sexual health e.g., refusal to use birth control and/or coerced pregnancy termination
  • Exploitation of victim’s vulnerability exploitation of perpetrator’s vulnerability
  • Presenting false information to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory or perceptions

How Does IPV Affect Health?

IPV is linked to many negative health outcomes, including:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain (CPP), dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramping), dyspareunia
  • Later stage at diagnosis of cervical, breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers -linked to not accessing health care
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Increased risk of chronic pain syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, chronic regional pain syndromes
  • Increased risk of harmful health behaviors such as smoking, drinking, using illicit drugs, or having risky sexual activity
  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Child abuse occurs at a rate 15x higher in families with IPV

Empower women and their families. Be their advocate. Know your community resources. Spread the word.

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!

Anna Camille Moreno, DO NCMP

Dr. Moreno is an assistant professor and medical director of the Midlife Women's Health program at University of Utah OBGYN. Her focused training includes midlife care involving perimenopause, menopause, hormone therapy, bone health (osteoporosis management and treatment), sexual dysfunction, vulvar disorders, and genital chronic graft versus host disease. She is also a medical consultant and a freelance medical writer for GoodRx, Inc. Dr. Moreno is a graduate of the Specialized Women's Health Fellowship Program at Cleveland Clinic.

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