Although IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) has existed in relationships for quite some time it only recently became part of the public eye during the Women’s Movement of the 1970’s when feminists demanded justice and brought this important issue to light (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p 309).
The CDC has defined IPV as violence occurring between current and former spouses or dating partners and not only includes physical abuse, but a ton of other types of abuse including sexual abuse, intimidation, threats, coercion, emotional abuse, economic abuse, and social isolation (Vassello, 2016, Slide 4).
Unfortunately, the rates at which IPV is happening is out of control- approximately 4.8 million women experience physical assaults and rapes. And women aren’t the only ones… men experience approximately 2.9 million assaults. And the cost is high literally- IPV is estimated at $8.3 billion a year including mental health services and medical care (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, pg 309).
A very common explanation for the clear disparity between the number of women versus men affected by IPV is due to the social stigma of admitting to being abused by one’s female partner. The social norm of male dominance undermines a man’s ability and urge to speak out and get help (Allen, 2011, p. 249).
There is evidence that victims prefer to work with a social worker rather than a health care provider regarding IPV- therefore social workers should feel empowered to enhance the aid and support of IPV victims. There has also been an increase in the demand for medical and public health positions for social workers to meet the needs of the affected victims (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 312).
There are many different ways social workers can help combat the issue of IPV. They can provide education such as warning signs of IPV and some of the barriers to getting help. They can provide counselling to victims who are trying to overcome the aftermath of the abuse they’ve experienced. They can also provide universal assessment and risk assessment as well as intervention in instances of IPV (Vassello, 2016, slide 13).
Although aid to IPV victims is incredibly important sometimes there are barriers to detecting abuse in the first place! Health care providers do not provide routine assessment for IPV for a number of reasons- some providers feel that screening is an invasion of patients’ privacy and may offend them. Medical professionals also feel that they lack the appropriate resources or education/training as well as a lack of time and a general belief that IPV is not an issue for their patient population (Vassello, 2016, slide 21).
If you or someone you know is a victim of IPV, there is hope. Intervention can happen and arrangements can be made to keep the victim safe. Pay attention to the signs of not only overt signs of power and control but also psychological manipulation. On average, it takes 5-7 times for a victim of IPV to leave the relationship as he/she is partaking in a vicious cycle (Vassello, 2016,).
Allen, M. (2011). Is there gender symmetry in intimate partner violence? Child & Family Social Work, 245-254. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2010.00735.x
Murphy, S., & Ouimet, L. (2008). Intimate Partner Violence: A Call for Social Work Action. Health & Social Work, 33(4), 309-314. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
Vassello. J. (2016). IPV Powerpoint. Slides 5, 11. Retrieved February, 10, 2016.