As an RN with 35 years of hands-on experience, I publish with a focus on health and wellness. This posting will have a slightly different twist. I will talk about IPV: intimate partner violence. This describes anyone who experiences violence at the hands of a spouse or partner. An article in American Nurse Today (March,2017) describes this issue as having serious health consequences. Since IPV is physical or sexual violence or stalking and psychological aggression, including coercive acts, by a current of former intimate partner, some professions also use the term “domestic” violence. This term however, is more inclusive and can also include child and elder abuse.
When a former loving relationship turns violent, devotion can be frightening, disturbing or even deadly. The approaching signs of IPV are not often easy to detect. Social isolation seems to be a hallmark for abuse. The abuser initially tries to isolate the victim from any form of help or rescue. This can involve monitoring the partners cell phone usage or physically restricting their social interactions. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that IPV affects one in three women in the U.S. over their lifetime. However, this issue is not limited to females. The CDC also publishes that men experience IPV in 1of 4 relationships.
The U.S. Justice Department defines sexual assault as: any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Local police departments have similar definitions. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force states that women ages 14 to 46 years (childbearing age) are at increased risk.
Remember that intimate partners know each other well. Therefore, when a victim tries to reach out for help, they are often shielded from health providers by the abuser. If someone is reporting abuse, there is usually abuse. Approach the situation with a non-judgment attitude and set the stage for a trusting and open relationships.
There are many intervention tools. If you have a friend or family member who you suspect is experiencing Intimate Partner Violence – speak up, say something. Keeping silent is not an option. Silence will only continue the abuse. Contact, and partner with, someone who can help resolve the situation.
If you are the victim of IPV, it is a scary situation and can be a potentially deadly condition. However, there are a few safety tips: make an emergency contact list, compile finances for urgent needs, have spare house and car keys available, talk with your neighbors, have access to your drivers license, birth certificate, bank account #’s, insurance policy #’s, and marriage license.
There are national resources available if needed: National Domestic Violence Hotline 800.799.7233 – Stop Abuse for Everyone, 1.503.853.8686 – National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, http://www.ncadv.org
Intimate partners should be loving, caring and supportive – violence is not part of the agreement.