7 Things Everyone Should Know about Intimate Partner Violence

1. What is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention characterizes IPV as a pattern of coercive behaviors within a relationship. These behaviors may include physical injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, social isolation, deprivation, and/or intimidation.

The World Health Organization defines IPV as any behavior within a relationship that physically, psychologically, or sexually harms those in the relationship.

There are four main types of abuse within IPV: physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression.

2. But what does IPV really look like?

Intimate partner violence happens in a lot of different ways, so it can look very different from relationship to relationship. This image not only describes the various types of abuse that can take place, but also serves as a powerful metaphor. The information is arranged like spokes on a wheel, so even if some types of abuse are not taking place or happen less frequently, the wheel still stays together and the wheel still turns. Abuse is abuse.

Violence wheel

3. Does it have to happen constantly to be considered IPV?

Absolutely not. In most cases, IPV happens in some sort of cycle (although the timing of the pattern can often be hard to predict). The phases of this cycle frequently look something like this:

The Honeymoon Phase

Both individuals love and depend on one another, and no abuse is taking place. If abuse has happened in the past, both individuals are acting as if it had never happened. The abuser may show signs of jealousy, but these may make the victim feel safe, important, and loved. The victim hopes the abuse is over with.

The Tension-Building Phase

Minor incidents begin to occur, and the victim often begins to feel as if they are walking on eggshells. The victim may believe it is their fault the abuser is upset, and spends time trying to figure out how to prevent any violence and how to keep the abuser calm.

The Explosive Phase

The building tension is released – this can happen in a variety of ways depending on the history violence within the relationship. The situation gets progressively worse, and the abuse is out of control. The victim may be terrorized for hours and in many different ways. The police are most often called during this phase, and the victim may even end up in the hospital.

The Reconciliation Phase

The abuser apologizes profusely to the victim, begging them to forgive them and insisting the abuse will never happen again. Because the victim is still in shock that the abuse happened, they are often vulnerable to accept the pleas of the abuser. Oftentimes, the abuse is denied and minimized (by both the victim and the abuser), and false resolution is made. And so the couple enters back into the honeymoon phase, and the cycle begins again.

4. Who does IPV affect? Is it common?

Unfortunately, IPV is much more common among both men and women than it should be. In the US, 35% of women and 28% of men have experienced some form of IPV in their lifetime. Severe physical IPV has affected 24% of women and 14% of men over their lifetime. Females most often experience multiple forms of IPV, while men most commonly experience only physical IPV.

5. Why do some people stay in abusive relationships?

Abusive relationships are very complicated, and are often very difficult to leave. If someone is or was in an abusive relationship, it is important to not judge them for “putting up” with it but to instead be supportive of their well-being and understanding of the difficult circumstances they are facing.

Some people who find themselves in IPV relationships do not realize that their relationship is unhealthy. They may think that their partner has a reason for lashing out in a such a way and they want to help fix them. For instance, their partner may have had a troubling childhood, may be dealing with stressful life events, may be under a lot of pressure, etc. They may think they are being strong by staying to help their partner through their problems, and may not even consider themselves a victim.

Other people may recognize the abuse but think that there is no way to get out of the relationship and away from the abuse. They may be too afraid to leave and possibly make the situation worse, they may not have the resources and support to leave the abuser, or the abuser may be a parent to their children and they do not want to break up the family.

There are other reasons people feel they must stay, they cannot leave, or they have no choice. But what’s important is not why someone stays; what’s important is how you can help them leave, move on, and start over. Support, kindness, and understanding are of the upmost importance to the physical and emotional well-being of victims of IPV.

6. How can I help myself or a loved one get out of a relationship with IPV?

If you find yourself in immediate danger, call 911 or leave right away.

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).

Establish a code word to use with friends/family to discretely let them know you are in danger but near your abuser. Reach out to those you trust.

If you are injured, go to an emergency room to seek care and notify the doctor or hospital staff of your circumstances.

Find a local domestic violence shelter, where you can get temporary housing, food, and other assistance such as counseling and next steps.

7. Is there any way to stop IPV within our society?

The best way to combat IPV is education and advocacy. Make sure you know the signs of IPV, and teach your friends and family about the dangers of abusive relationships. Start open and honest conversations with those around you about healthy relationships, and be compassionate and understanding to those struggling with IPV. Know the resources offered by your community and don’t be afraid to reach out for help or advice for yourself or a loved one.

Work Cited

Intimate Partner Violence: Definitions. (2016, June 19). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/definitions.html
NISVS Summary Reports. (2014, September 17). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/summary_reports.html
The Pixel Project’s “16 For 16” Campaign. (2013, December 4). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://16days.thepixelproject.net/16-ways-to-stop-domestic-violence-in-your-community/
Violence Against Women. (2015, September 30). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/types-of-violence/domestic-intimate-partner-violence.html#b

Identifying Barriers to Domestic Violence Screening, Detection, & Disclosure

Domestic Violence is serious social issue that thrives in silence (Steiner, Ted Talk). It is defined by the Women’s Aid UK, as “Physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior, which may include a range of abusive behaviors, not all of which are in themselves inherently ‘violent’ (Laing, & Humphrey p. 4). Statistics show that women are often the victims of DV while men are often the perpetrators, however DV can be enacted by any sex or gender and across various age groups, predominately early to late adulthood. While there are various resources available to assist victims (some more than others, depending on the area of course), numerous victims refrain from reporting or seeking help against DV perpetrators. Here are a variety of barriers that may prevent victims from seeking help.

  1. Provider Barriers: Health Care Providers- doctors, nurses, physician assistants and emergency medical technicians express multiple reasons for not routinely assessing for IPV among their patients.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality- Many providers are worried that screening can potentially offend or anger patients. In addition, providers are afraid of violating confidentiality policies due to mandatory reporting laws (Murphy & Ouimet p. 311)
  • Lack of education/training on the subject matter: Providers feel as if they don’t possess sufficient knowledge and skills to implement the screening and referral process; neither do they feel comfortable interacting with victims of IPV (Murphy & Ouimet p. 311)

  1. Systemic Barriers
  • The institutions that victims turn to for help, such as emergency rooms, clinics, and primary care settings, are often constrained. This can be due to time constraints, lack of case detection procedures and screening protocols, and lack of support for screening implementation (Murphy & Ouimet p. 311)
  • Cost of medical care (Class Lecture 2/11/16)
  • Lack of health care provider knowledge & understanding (Class Lecture 2/11/16)
  • Distrust against the legal systems (Class Lecture 2/11/16)

  1. Victim Barriers
  • Confidentiality – fear that confessing about abuse may lead to further violence
  • Shame & Embarrassment (Class Lecture 2/11/16)
  • Gender Considerations- Stigma associated with men reporting (Class Lecture 2/11/16)
  • Sexual Orientation Considerations- “Double Closeted, Conspiracy of Silence” (Class Lecture 2/11/16)
  • Fear of separating family- need to keep the family together, disruption of the children’s lives,  CPS involvement, (Class Lecture 2/11/16)


An article assessing one section “the help-seeking choices of abused women”, of the Chicago Women’s Health Risk Study, provided a glimpse into abused women’s reasons for not seeking particular interventions. The CWHRS screened all women for abuse who entered one Chicago-area hospital and four community-based health centers in 1997. Face-to-face interviews were completed with a sample of 491 women who were screened as abused and a comparison group of 208 women who were screened as not abused in the previous year (Fugate, Landis, Riordan, Naureckas, & Engel p. 292)

Four types of helping identified by the CWHRS: Talking to someone, using an agency or counselor, seeking medical care, and calling the police.

Findings (Fugate, Landis, Riordan, Naureckas, & Engel p. 295):

  • Contacting an agency or counselor was the least often used intervention; 82% of the abused women did not contact an agency or counselor.
  • The next least used intervention was medical care; 74% (364) of the women did not seek medical care following an incident in the year prior to the day of the initial interview.
  • 62% (302 and 5 for whom someone else called the police when she did not) did not call the police.
  • Finally, only 29% (140) of the women did not talk to someone else, such as family and friends about the incident.

  1. Cross Cultural Barriers
  • Lack of cultural sensitivity and inclusivity on behalf of providers (Murphy & Ouimet p. 311)
  • Legal concerns, in regards to reporting of immigration status (Class lecture 2/11/16)
  • Language barriers (Class lecture 2/11/16)
  • Different perceptions and attitudes of abuse among different cultural groups (Murphy & Ouimet p. 311)
  • Invalidation by peers & family (Class lecture 2/11/16)



Fugate, M., Landis,L.,  Riordan, K.,  Naureckas, S.,  & Engel, B. (2005). Barriers to Domestic    Violence Help Seeking: Implications for Intervention. Violence Against Women, 11(3), Sage  Publications.

Laing, L., & Humphreys, C. (2014). Introduction: Key Concepts in Social Work and Domestic Violence. In Social Work & Domestic Violence: Developing critical & reflective practice (pp. 1-16). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publicatons.

Murphy, S., & Ouimet, L. (2008). Intimate Partner Violence: A Call for Social Work Action. Health & Social Work, 33(4), 309-314. Retrieved December 2, 2015.

Steiner, L. (2012). Ted Talk: Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave. Retrieved from       https://youtu.be/V1yW5IsnSjo

8 Warning Signs That You May Be In Danger of IPV (Intimate Partner Violence)

By: Mindy Barnes

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined by the CDC as, “violence occurring between current and former spouses or dating partners and includes not only physical and sexual abuse, but also threats and emotional abuse” (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309). According to Allen, “European statistics show that one in four women experience domestic violence and the World Health Organization multi-country study revealed prevalence figures between 15% and 71% for lifetime prevalence of physical and/or sexual abuse for women (Garcia-Moreno et al. 2006)” (2012, p. 245). While it is true that women make up the majority of IPV victims, it is important to note that men can be victims as well, as “men experience approximately 2.9 million assaults (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000)” per year (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, p. 309). It is also imperative that one views IPV through an intersectional lens, as it can affect men and women of all social classes, races/ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations (Laing & Humphreys, 2014, pg. 7). One of the most difficult aspects of IPV is recognizing the warning signs, not just for social workers but for the victims themselves. So, I would like to take the time now to highlight the characteristics of IPV found on the power and control wheel (John Vassello, 02/09/2016, Week 3: Intimate Partner Violence). If you can identify with any of these attributes, you may be a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence, and you should seek help as soon and as safely as possible:

1. Intimidation- uses actions, looks, and gestures such as breaking things or displaying weapons to make you afraid or to get you to obey

2. Emotional Abuse- uses mind games, name calling, and humiliation to make you feel guilty, crazy, or bad about yourself

3. Isolation- controls many or all aspects of your life such as who you talk to or where you go, to limit your involvement with other people and activities and claiming jealousy as a justification for this behavior

4. Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming- minimizes or makes light of the abuse, denies that the abuse happened, blames you for the abuse or abusive behavior


5. Using Children- uses the children as pawns to insight guilt or fear, threatens to take them away 

 6. Using Male Privilege- is in charge of defining male and female roles, dominates the household, makes all the major decisions 


7. Economic Abuse- prevents you from having access to the finances, keeps you from working, gives you an allowance or makes you ask for money 

8. Coercion and Threats- threatens to cause you harm or does cause you harm, threatens to leave or cause self-harm, makes you do things you shouldn’t do or don’t want to do

Remember, not all relationships have to be toxic. Below is a list of traits that constitute a healthy relationship, taken from the wheel of equality (John Vassello, 02/09/2016, Week 3: Intimate Partner Violence):


 1. Non-threatening behavior- behaves in a way that makes you feel safe and comfortable 

2. Respect- listens to you, values your opinions, and is non-judgmental and understanding  

3. Trust and Support- supports you in your life goals, trusts you and respects your right to have you own opinions, feelings, and relationships with others

4. Honesty and Accountability- communicates openly, acknowledges and admits wrong doing, accepts personal responsibility

 5. Responsible Parenting- is a good parent and role model for the children, does not use violence against them

6. Shared Responsibility- makes decisions with you and agrees with you to do a fair distribution of work

7. Economic Partnership- makes financial decisions with you and makes sure that financial arrangements are fair and benefit you both

8. Negotiation and Fairness- is willing to compromise and is willing to seek mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict

As social workers, it is important to educate the public about what IPV looks like. Many IPV victims may not even know that they are in a dangerous relationship, so education can save lives. However, it is ultimately up to the IPV victim to advocate for her–or him–self, and to choose to break the cycle of violence. You are a survivor and you are strong, but you also don’t have to go through this alone. If you are a victim of IPV or if you know of someone who may be, please know that there is help out there. Social workers, physicians, and police officers are your friends. Their job is to do whatever they can to protect individuals, like you, from harm. Never be afraid to ask for help.


Allen, M. (2010). Is there gender symmetry in intimate partner violence?. In Child & Family Social Work, 245-254. doi: 10.1111/j/1365-2206.2010.00735.x

Laing, L., & Humphreys, C. (2014). Introduction: Key concepts in social work and domestic violence. In Social Work & Domestic Violence: Developing critical & Reflective Practice (pp. 1-16). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Murphy, S., & Ouimet, L. (2008). Intimate Partner Violence: A Call for Social Work Action. In Health & Social Work, 33(4), 309-314.

Vassello, John. (02/09/2016). SW250 class PowerPoint, Week 3: Intimate Partner Violence.

Testimonies and Tips on IPV-Julie S.


Intimate Partner Violence, or Domestic Violence, is defined by the World Health Organization as: “Any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have added to this definition to include patterned instances, “progressive social isolation, deprivation and intimidation” (Class Notes Week 3)



violence-chart-circleThis week’s guest speaker, Carrie Moylan, noted how impactful this power wheel is when showing it to victims of IPV. Many do not recognize that they are a part of a system of abuse. Instead they consider the acts of their partner to be normal, or ways in which their partner grieves. There are many different forms of abuse, and no one deserves to endure any of them (Carrie Moylan).




 “An estimated 1.5 million women and 830,000 men are physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner annually in the United States” -National Violence Against Women Survey (Class Notes Week 3)cycleofviolence


“People in abusive relationships often mistake intensity for intimacy. It feels intimate because it is so personal, but intimacy requires trust- and there is no trust in abusive relationships” -Dragonslippers (Penfold, 2005, p.1)

Domestic Violence can and does also happen in same-gender relationships. This story depicts the effects of emotional and physical abuse in IPV.

Warning: This award winning film on “the effects of domestic violence and alcohol abuse in same sex relationships” features some explicit language. (Emma Loveday & Tom Smith, 2015)


Children of parents experiencing IPV also experience significant distress from the circumstances. This story shares the challenges of how growing up in a household with IPV can create grief.

  • About one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. experience physical, emotional or verbal abuse in a dating relationship  -Davis  2008 (Class Notes Week 3)
  • Two in five girls ages 11-12 have reported friends with relationships containing verbal abuse  -Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study 2000 (Class Notes Week 3)

Children’s experiences with abuse can also influence their actions in future relationships. In fact, many perpetrators designate childhood abuse or witnessing abuse as reason for their anger and actions. This raises concern to our current methods of intervention for children in homes with IPV.


The hardest question people ask survivors of Domestic Violence is “Why Didn’t you just leave…?”

There are many barriers that make the decision to leave EXTREMELY HARD. Victims with children are often in the greatest struggle because they want to keep their children safe and not expose them to major life changes. Other barriers include feeling ashamed about the circumstances, feeling like you are the only person that can help your partner, and great fear that the circumstances could become worse if you were to leave.

Even when victims return back to their homes after seeking services, Social Workers understand that one night of safety is still significant because it helps to plant the seed for escaping violence and seeking help. It can take up to approximately seven acts of aggression until the victim finally decides to leave the violence atmosphere (Carrie Moylan).



There is much to learn about IPV and its complexity… It is important for bystanders and victims to understand how painful and challenging situations can be to escape and recover.

As stated in the research of Mary Allen on gender symmetry: “To fully understand and make appropriate assessments will require a comprehensive understanding of the typologies of such violence, the dynamics which can be identified in each typology and the likely impacts on abused women and men and on their children” (Allen, 2010, p252)


Leslie’s story shows us that anyone can be victim to IPV. She leaves us all with the best advice and that is:

“Abuse only thrives is silence, you have the power to end Domestic Violence simply by shining a spotlight on it” -Leslie Morgan Steiner


If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of Domestic Violence please consider this local resource: RISE (Click the Link) 

Allen, Mary. (2011). Is there gender symmetry in intimate partner violence?(Report). Child & Family Social Work, 16(3), 245.

Penfold, R. (2005). Dragonslippers : This is what an abusive relationship looks like (1st American ed.). New York: Black Cat/Grove Press : Distributed by Group West.


12 Warning Signs of Intimate Partner Violence

With images from “Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like” By: Rosalind B. Penfold

By: Eliza Adler

  1. They try to push you away from friends and family, isolating you (Penfold, 2005. Page 151)             Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.02.06 AM
  2. They make it seem like being with them or their dreams are more important than yours  (Penfold, 2005. Page 115)          Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.21.15 AM.png
  3. They insult you, make fun of you, or intimidate you (Penfold, 2005. Page 179)                Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.22.22 AM.png
  4. They move too fast, too soon (Penfold, 2005. Page 114)Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.52.28 AM
  5. They say hurtful things about others, including your friends and family (Penfold, 2005. Page 117)                  Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.24.22 AM.png
  6. They physically hurt you, with or without a weaponScreen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.57.19 AM
  7. They get very jealous, even when you are not doing anything wrongScreen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.54.11 AM
  8. When they blow up at you, they pretend like it never happened    (Penfold, 2005. Page 127)                                               Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.31.45 AM.png
  9. They lie to you, over and over (Penfold, 2005. Page 284) Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.57.51 AM
  10. They bribe you or manipulate you (Penfold, 2005. Page 190) Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.59.53 AM
  11. They are aggressive towards others, such as their children, friends, or even strangers  (Penfold, 2005. Page 159) Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.35.26 AM.png
  12. Your family and friends are suspicious of the relationship and repeatedly ask you what is going on (Penfold, 2005. Page 313) Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.00.50 AM

“Dragonslippers: This is What and Abusive Relationship Looks Like” by Rosalind B. Penfold.

8 Surprising Facts about IPV/Domestic Violence:


  • 1. We commonly think of IPV/ or domestic violence as being solely physical, but that isn’t true! The definition of domestic violence actually includes any type of “physical, psychological, sexual, and/or financial violence that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior.” (Laing & Humphreys, 2014, pg. 4)
  • 2. Although IPV/ or domestic violence has been around for quite a while, it wasn’t publicized until the 1970s by a group of feminists. (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, pg 309)
  • 3. We often associate IPV/ or domestic violence as a women’s issue, but it can happen to both women and men! (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, pg 309)
  • 4. Victims usually prefer to work with a social worker, rather than their own doctor, when divulging information about their abuse. Sadly, access to medical social workers is limited at best. (Murphy & Ouimet, 2008, pg 312)

  • 5. It usually takes a victim 5-7 experiences of abuse, on average to leave a relationship. (J. Vassello, personal communication, February 9, 2016)
  • 6. IPV usually follows a pattern, or cycle. It begins with the honeymoon phase, then the tension building phase, then the explosive phase, and lastly the reconciliation phase. (J. Vassello, personal communication, February 9, 2016)

  • 7. Victims stay in their abusive relationships for many reasons. One of the main reasons is if they having children together. There could be many negative effects on the children if the parents separate. For example, the children may be taken away by CPS, and placed in foster care, or the children may be forced to live in a shelter and leave their friends. (J. Vassello, personal communication, February 9, 2016)
  • 8. In a study done by Dr. O’Hare, it was found that over 25% of males convicted of domestic abuse or IPV related assault charges, were found to be psychopaths. This means that they were not remorseful about what they had done, and that they had a very high chance of committing a similar crime in the future. (O’Hare, 1993, pg 94)





Vassello, personal communication, February 9, 2016

Laing, L & Humphreys C. (2014) Introduction: Key concepts in social work and domestic violence. In Social work & domestic violence: Developing critical & reflective practice (pp 1-16). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Murphy, S., & Ouimet, L. (2008). Intimate Partner Violence: A Call for Social Work Action. Health & Social Work, 33(4), 309-314. Retrieved February 8, 2015.

O’Hare, R. (1993) Without Conscience: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. New York, NY: Simon & Schulster Inc.