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In-person or Virtual Options are Available | Now Accepting New Clients

(503) 841-2142

Understanding Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious issue that can leave lasting scars. If you’re here because you or someone you know is experiencing it, you’re not alone. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of IPV, its different forms, and resources available for healing and support.

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

IPV, also known as domestic violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior in a romantic relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other. It’s important to understand that IPV isn’t just about physical violence; it can manifest in various ways, impacting a person’s physical, emotional, psychological, and financial well-being.

The Power and Control Wheel by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of IPV:

  • Physical Violence: Hitting, kicking, shoving, grabbing, and using weapons are all forms of physical abuse. It can also include denying medical care or forcing drug or alcohol use.
  • Sexual Violence: This involves forcing a partner into any sexual activity, including unwanted touching or pressuring them to have sex when they do not want to.
  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse: This involves using words, actions, or behaviors to belittle, humiliate, isolate, or frighten a partner. Examples include constant criticism, threats, insults, and stalking.
  • Financial Abuse: This involves controlling a partner’s financial resources, withholding money, preventing them from working, or running up debt in their name.
  • Technological Abuse: This is the misuse of technology to control or intimidate a partner. It can involve monitoring their online activity, sending unwanted messages, or sharing private information.

The Cycle of Violence as described by Lenore Walker in 1979

Lenore Walker, an American psychologist who worked to document cycles of abuse and eventually founded the Domestic Violence Institute, found that IPV often follows a cyclical pattern characterized by four stages:

  • Tension Building: This stage involves increasing arguments, frustrations, and controlling behaviors by the abusive partner.
  • Acute Incident: This is the explosion of violence, which can be physical, sexual, or emotional.
  • Honeymoon Phase: Following the violent incident, the abuser may apologize, express remorse, and promise to change. This creates a false sense of hope and security for the victim.
  • Minimization/Denial: Both partners may minimize the severity of the abuse or deny it altogether. The victim may blame themselves or hope things will improve.

It’s crucial to understand this cycle to break free. The honeymoon phase, however sincere it may seem initially, is temporary and the cycle will inevitably repeat.

Who Can Be Affected By IPV?

Anyone can be a victim or perpetrator of IPV, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or gender. While women are more frequently victims of physical violence, men can also experience abuse. 

Signs of Intimate Partner Violence

Recognizing the signs of IPV is critical for both the victim and those who care about them. Here are some red flags to watch for:

  • Physical signs: Bruises, cuts, burns, or other injuries.
  • Emotional signs: Depression, anxiety, fearfulness, withdrawal from social activities, low self-esteem, and body image concerns. 
  • Behavioral changes: Walking on eggshells around the partner, constantly apologizing, neglecting personal hygiene or appearance.
  • Financial issues: Difficulty accessing money, unexplained debt.
  • Controlling behavior: Monitoring phone calls, texts, and online activity, dictating how the victim should dress or behave.
  • Isolating the victim: Preventing them from seeing friends or family.

If You’re Experiencing IPV

It’s important to understand that you are not alone and that there is help available. Here are some steps you can take:

Here are some resources that can help:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233 or visit www.thehotline.org
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV): www.ncadv.org
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE www.rainn.org

If You Know Someone Experiencing IPV

If you suspect someone you know is experiencing IPV, here’s how you can support them:

  • Believe them: Acknowledge their experience and validate their feelings. Let them know you care and are there for them.
  • Listen without judgment: Provide a safe space for them to talk without fear of being blamed or judged.
  • Offer support, not solutions: Avoid pressuring them into leaving immediately. Respect their decisions and offer help navigating resources.
  • Educate yourself about IPV: Learn more about the signs, cycle of violence, and available resources.
  • Encourage professional help: Suggest therapy or support groups specializing in IPV.
  • Help them develop a safety plan: Talk about escape routes, safe havens, and emergency contacts.
  • Respect their boundaries: Don’t pressure them to share information they’re not comfortable with.

Remember, you can’t force someone to leave an abusive relationship. However, your support can empower them to make informed choices and feel less alone.

Moving Forward: Healing and Support

Healing from IPV takes time and support. Here are some resources that can help:

  • Individual Therapy: A therapist can help victims process the trauma, develop coping skills, and rebuild self-esteem.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with other survivors can provide a sense of community and understanding.

As a therapist, I can offer a safe space to process the trauma of IPV and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Whether you’re the victim or someone who cares about them, please reach out and schedule an appointment. You are not alone, and healing is possible.

Additional Resources:

Remember, you are not alone. There is help and hope available. Take the first step towards healing today.

Please note: This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional help. If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV, please reach out to the resources listed above or seek professional support from a therapist or counselor.