Intimate Partner Violence
What is intimate partner violence (IPV)?
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse that happens in a romantic relationship. The intimate partner could be a current or former spouse or dating partner. IPV is also known as domestic violence.
IPV may include different types of abuse, such as:
- Physical violence, when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
- Sexual violence which involves forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in sexual activity when the partner does not or cannot consent. The sexual activity could include things like sex acts, sexual touching, or non-physical sexual events (e.g., sexting).
- Emotional abuse, which includes threats, name-calling, put-downs, and humiliation. It can also involve controlling behavior, such as telling a partner how to act or dress and not letting them see family or friends.
- Economic abuse, also called financial abuse, which involves controlling access to money.
- Stalking, which is repeated, unwanted contact that causes fear or concern for the safety of the partner. This can include watching or following the partner. The stalker may send repeated, unwanted phone calls or texts.
Who is affected by intimate partner violence (IPV)?
It is hard to know exactly how common IPV is because it is often not reported.
But we do know that anyone can be affected by it. IPV can happen to anyone. It affects people with all levels of income and education.
What are the signs that someone is experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV)?
If you think that a loved one might be experiencing IPV, watch for these signs:
Does your friend or loved one:
- Have unexplained cuts or bruises?
- Avoid friends, family, and favorite activities?
- Make excuses for their partner's behavior?
- Look uncomfortable or fearful around their partner?
Does your friend or loved one's partner:
- Yell at or make fun of them?
- Try to control them by making all the decisions?
- Check up on them at work or school?
- Force them to do sexual things they don't want to do?
- Threaten to hurt themself if the partner wants to break up?
What can I do if I am experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV)?
Your safety is the most important concern. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
If you are not in immediate danger, you can:
- Get medical care if you have been injured or sexually assaulted.
- Call a helpline for free, anonymous help. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY). You can also chat with them through their website or through text by texting START to 88788.
- Find out where to get help in your community. Contact local organizations that can help you.
- Make a safety plan to leave. Intimate partner violence usually does not get better. Think about a safe place for you to go and all of the things that you will need when you leave.
- Save the evidence. Keep evidence of abuse, such as pictures of your injuries or threatening emails or texts. Make sure that it is in a safe place the abuser cannot access.
- Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a spiritual leader.
- Consider getting a restraining order to protect yourself.
How can I help someone who is experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV)?
Let your loved one know that being treated this way isn't healthy and that they are not to blame. You should:
- Call 911 if there is immediate danger.
- Watch for the signs of abuse. Learn about the signs and keep track of the ones that you see.
- Find out about local resources. Get the addresses and phone numbers of some local resources in your community. Then you'll be able to share the information if the person is ready for it.
- Set up a time to talk. Make sure you can have your conversation in a safe, private place. Your loved one's partner may have access to his or her cell phone or computer, so be careful about sharing information over text or email.
- Be specific about why you are worried. Describe the behaviors that concern you. Be as specific as possible when explaining why you are worried.
- Plan for safety. If your loved one is ready to leave an abusive partner, help make a plan for getting out of the relationship as safely as possible. An intimate partner violence counselor can help with making a safety plan.
- Be patient and do not judge. You should talk about your concerns with your loved one, but you need to understand that they may not be ready to talk about it. Let them know that you're available to talk at any time, and that you will listen without judging them.
What are mental disorders?
Mental disorders (or mental illnesses) are conditions that affect your thinking, feeling, mood, and behavior. They may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic). They can affect your ability to relate to others and function each day.
What are some types of mental disorders?
There are many different types of mental disorders. Some common ones include:
- Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias
- Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
What causes mental disorders?
There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as:
- Your genes and family history
- Your life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, especially if they happen in childhood
- Biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain
- A traumatic brain injury
- A mother's exposure to viruses or toxic chemicals while pregnant
- Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
- Having a serious medical condition like cancer
- Having few friends, and feeling lonely or isolated
Mental disorders are not caused by character flaws. They have nothing to do with being lazy or weak.
Who is at risk for mental disorders?
Mental disorders are common. More than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some time in their life.
How are mental disorders diagnosed?
The steps to getting a diagnosis include:
- A medical history
- A physical exam and possibly lab tests, if your provider thinks that other medical conditions could be causing your symptoms
- A psychological evaluation. You will answer questions about your thinking, feelings, and behaviors.
What are the treatments for mental disorders?
Treatment depends on which mental disorder you have and how serious it is. You and your provider will work on a treatment plan just for you. It usually involves some type of therapy. You may also take medicines. Some people also need social support and education on managing their condition.
In some cases, you may need more intensive treatment. You may need to go to a psychiatric hospital. This could be because your mental illness is severe. Or it could be because you are at risk of hurting yourself or someone else. In the hospital, you will get counseling, group discussions, and activities with mental health professionals and other patients.
Occupational health problems occur at work or because of the kind of work you do. These problems can include:
- Cuts, fractures (broken bones), and sprains and strains
- Loss of limbs
- Repetitive motion disorders
- Hearing problems caused by exposure to noise
- Vision problems
- Illness caused by breathing, touching, or swallowing unsafe substances
- Illness caused by exposure to radiation
- Exposure to germs in health care settings
Good job safety and prevention practices can reduce your risk of these problems. Try to stay fit, reduce stress, set up your work area properly, and use the right equipment and gear.
Rural Health Concerns
Around 15% of people in the United States live in rural areas. There are many different reasons why you might choose to live in a rural community. You may want a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life. You may enjoy having access to big, open spaces for recreation. Rural areas are less crowded and can offer more privacy. You may choose a rural area so that you can live near your family and friends.
But there are also challenges to living in a rural area, including when it comes to taking care of your health. Compared to urban areas, rural communities tend to have:
- Higher poverty rates
- A higher percentage of older adults, who are more likely to have chronic health problems
- More residents without health insurance
- Less access to health care. For example, clinics and hospitals may be far away.
- Higher rates of certain substance use, such as cigarette smoking and opioid and methamphetamine misuse
- Higher rates of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity
- More exposure to environmental hazards, such as chemicals used for farming
There are solutions to deal with these problems. A few examples include:
- Clinics offering telehealth to provide care for people who live far away from specialists or can't easily get to their providers' offices
- Local public health agencies working with their communities to promote healthy living. They can provide wellness and exercise classes and start a farmer's market.
- Local governments adding bike lanes and trails to encourage people to bike and walk
- Rural schools can offer counseling and mental health services for their students