Intimate Partner Violence

by Michael_Koger

Intimate partner violence is a major public health problem worldwide.

Though many conceive of intimate partner violence as the infliction of bruises, fractures, and other physical injuries upon a spouse or other partner, this health issue involves several forms of abuse. These include physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. The victims of violence and abuse may develop physical and psychological problems as a result [1, 2].

The victims are usually women, and the perpetrators are generally men. However, intimate partner violence can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation. The perpetrators may be current or former spouses, common-law spouses, non-marital dating sexual partners, and boyfriends or girlfriends of the same or opposite sex [1].

When adolescent relationships have intimate partner violence, and this is especially true when these couples have sexual intercourse, the matter is teenage dating violence [1].

Consequences of IPV

The victims of it are at risk for psychological depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, headaches, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.  They may also abuse substances and experience social dysfunction [1, 2].  Moreover, the poor communication in these relationships will predispose the victim for the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections.

Studies suggest that a woman’s susceptibility to violence and abuse and its consequences have to do with her physical strength, poverty, and prior abuse which she may have suffered during the childhood years.  These factors tend to create gender-unequal norms in the relationship [2].

Management of this public health issue, therefore, requires a complex approach as there are several variables which contribute to its occurrence.  The victims may require crisis services, legal advocacy, emergency shelters, transitional housing, and parenting or childcare assistance [2]. 

Stereotypes and Gender Roles

An improvement in the labor market for women may lessen the occurrence of intimate partner violence as the income and employment enable them to have more self-esteem and control over their affairs [2].  Moreover, research in India indicates that management of stereotypes and gender roles will motivate girls and women to pursue employment and education.

The desire of women to pursue higher education and employment may increase when there are other women who already have positions of political power or authority.  This scenario will, in fact, encourage parents to maintain high career expectations of their daughters [2].


Intimate partner violence is quite prevalent in women, and it significantly adds to the global burden of disease.


  1. Beydoun, H., Beydoun, M., Kaufman, J., et al.  (2012).  Intimate partner violence against adult women and its association with major depressive disorder, depressive symptoms and post-partum depression:  A systematic review and meta-analysis.  Social Science and Medicine, 75, 959-975.
  2. Tsai, A.  (2013).  Intimate partner violence and population mental health:  Why poverty and gender inequities matter.  Public Library of Science Medicine, 10:  e1001440.
  3. The photograph shows illicit drug paraphernalia and has been reprinted with permission from the Centers for Disease Control and Debora Cartagena.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 07/05/2013, Michael_Koger
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