What is Intimate Partner Violence?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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Intimate partner violence is a term that classifies a range of violent or abusive behaviors between people who are romantically involved or have some kind of romantic interest. This would generally include people who are married, people who are dating, or people who have some kind of past intimate interest in each other. The term domestic violence means essentially the same thing, but intimate partner violence is often used instead because it puts things in a broader context.

Many legal definitions allow for a wide definition of intimate partner violence that doesn't only include physical attacks and sexual assaults. The threat of violence and the use of these threats to coerce people can also often be identified as intimate partner violence. Some definitions could also include other behaviors, such as so-called "verbal violence" and even stalking.

Most of the time, intimate partner violence is committed by men. This is generally true for all violent crime across societies. There are some cases where women are accused of intimate partner violence, and sometimes when men are the victims of this type of violence, they may be ashamed to report their problems because of social expectations. These feelings of shame could be partially responsible for the differences between the number of men and women who are reportedly victimized.


There are actually a lot of reasons why people might not choose to report domestic partner violence. Abused people are often much too frightened to turn in their partners. They may fear that the police won't handle the situation effectively, and they worry that their partner will be let out of jail and seek revenge.

Some people are also very emotionally dependent on and attached to their abusers. These individuals may still feel love towards the abusers and may not be able to stand the idea of losing the relationship. Others may be financially dependent on the abuser and worried about how they might be able to provide for themselves if the relationship ended.

Certain people stay in abusive relationships for moral reasons or because of certain social mores. These people may come from societies or religious backgrounds where the idea of divorce is unacceptable. Some are also older people who learned values in a different generation when violent behaviors in intimate relationships were more tolerated.

Fixing the issue of intimate partner violence usually involves punishing the abuser and providing counseling for the person being abused. It can be very hard for the abused person to adjust to a new life, and many of them may be very afraid for a long time after their relationships end, so they might need support from family and friends.


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