Introduction

  • More than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

  • 74 percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners.

  • One in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

  • Interpersonal violence is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy.

  • The percentage of women who consider their mental health to be poor is almost three times higher among women with a history of violence than among those without.

  • Women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of intimate partner violence, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities.

Did you know that...
  • Nearly half of all women in the United States have experienced at least one form of psychological aggression by an intimate partner.
  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.
  • One out of three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
  • Intimate Partner Violence occurs across age, ethnic, gender and economic lines, among persons with disabilities, and among both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
Facts from psychological research

Your risk of experiencing intimate partner violence increases if you are:

  • Poor
  • Less educated
  • An adolescent or a young adult
  • Female
  • Living in a high-poverty neighborhood
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol

The following increase someone’s chances of becoming an abusive partner:

  • Low income
  • Low academic achievement
  • Young age
  • Aggressive behavior as a youth
  • Heavy alcohol and drug use
  • Depression
  • Anger and hostility
  • Prior history of being physically abusive
  • Few friends and isolation from other people
  • Unemployment
  • Emotional dependence and insecurity
  • Belief in strict gender roles (e.g., male dominance)
  • Desire for power and control in relationships
  • Being a victim of child physical or psychological abuse
Forms of psychological aggression

Expressive aggression is when your intimate partner has called you names (e.g., fat, ugly, crazy, stupid) insulted, humiliated or made fun of you called you a loser, a failure or not good enough told you no one else would want you acted very angry in a way that seemed dangerous.

Coercive control is when your intimate partner has tried to keep you from seeing or talking to family or friends made decisions that should have been yours to make kept track of you by demanding to know where you were and what you were doing made threats to physically harm you threatened to hurt him/herself or commit suicide because s/he was upset threatened to hurt a pet or take a pet away threatened to hurt someone you love threatened to take your children away from you kept you from leaving the house when you wanted to go kept you from having your own money to use destroyed something that was important to you.

If you have been victimized by an intimate partner — recently or in the past — you may experience one or many of the following:

  • Depression

  • Suicidal thoughts and/or behavior

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem

  • Inability to trust

  • Fear of intimacy

  • Isolation

  • Risky behaviors (unhealthy eating, sexual behaviors and dependence on substances)

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

  • Emotional detachment

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Flashbacks

  • Replaying assault in mind

  • Poor physical health (frequent headaches, chronic pain and activity limitations)

What can you do to help yourself
  • Connect with supportive and caring people, not those who might blame you for the abuse.

  • Secure a restraining or protective order if necessary — it prohibits an individual from harassing, threatening, approaching, accosting, or even contacting you. Always keep it with you.

  • Seek help from a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider; contact your doctor or other primary health care provider; engage the services at centers or shelters for battered women.

Safety planning
  • Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can tell when you and your children are in danger before it occurs.

  • Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons (e.g., not the kitchen) and there are ways to escape. If arguments begin, try to move to one of those areas.

  • If violence occurs, make yourself a small target — dive into a corner and curl up into a ball, with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.

  • If possible, have a phone handy at all times and know what numbers to call for help.

  • Don’t be afraid to call the police.

  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation, and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.

  • Pack a bag (include money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra clothes and medicines) and leave it in a safe place or with someone you trust.

  • Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.

  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.

  • Call a domestic violence hotline periodically to assess your options and get support and understanding.

Resources
References