On Your Mind

Intimate Partner Violence: What It Can Look Like + Where To Find Help

By Apsaline Douglas Gabi Powell Jillian LoPiano, MD

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During February, relationships take center stage. Even with Valentine’s Day in the rearview mirror, whether you’re single and loving it, going steady with your S.O., or are just “figuring it out,” love seems to take the spotlight all month. Because of the attention that relationships get during this time, it’s important to address some not-so-comfortable aspects of relationships.

Betties, setting ourselves up for relationship success requires we also address aspects of an unhealthy relationship. We’ve covered toxic relationships, and today, we need to address what can happen if a toxic relationship escalates: IPV, also known as intimate partner violence.


We know these conversations can be sensitive, Betties. If at any point while reading negative feelings surface, please step away and take action to care of your mental wellbeing. We are here for you.


What is IPV?

IPV, or intimate partner violence, is the abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. Betties, maybe you have a very clear idea that “violence” equals physical. And while it can, IPV can be characterized by and inflicted on a partner in a variety of ways:



Physical violence can range from slapping, pushing or shoving to severe acts, such as beating, burning or choking. Physical aggression and sexual violence can often come hand-in-hand, especially when sexual contact is non-consensual. This includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and non-contact unwanted sexual experiences.



This type of abuse occurs when a partner uses verbal and non-verbal forms of communication to intentionally hurt their partner. This can look like threatening, gaslighting, isolating a partner from their support network, accusing a partner of cheating, blaming a partner, name-calling, criticizing or humiliating a partner in any way.



In today’s verbiage, “stalking” is a pretty casual term we throw around – stalking someone’s social, celeb-stalking, but stalking as it relates to IPV is a real cause of fear and safety concerns. Stalking victimization involves a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics used by a perpetrator, such as unwanted monitoring and/or following a partner’s movements. About 1 in 6 women have experienced stalking, the CDC reports.



Controlling someone’s reproductive health can look like refusing to use a condom during intercourse or tampering with other forms of contraceptives. For females, it can include a partner’s forceful actions to impregnate them against their wishes. For males, it can include a partner’s forceful actions to become pregnant against their wishes. This form of IPV can be inflicted on those with female or male reproductive systems.


How common is IPV?

Unfortunately, very common, Betties.


1:5 women have experienced IPV.
11 million women report IPV before the age of 18.

(Source: CDC)

But these numbers do not consider the countless cases of violence that go unreported.

Now that we’ve broken down how IPV can occur, we can better understand how to identify behaviors that point to characteristics of IPV. You may think, “Wouldn’t it be obvious?” Not necessarily, Betties. Those suffering from IPV may ignore the warning signs or have been conditioned to accept these behaviors as normal.


What are the consequences?

IPV can have long-lasting and damaging effects on one’s physical and mental health.

A study found that women were up to ten times more likely to report depression and seventeen times more likely to report anxiety if they were in violent relationships. But even in the wake of an IPV relationship, conditions such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression and high-risk behaviors, such as smoking, increased sexual risk and increased alcohol intake often develop.

The grim reality is this: 35% of female IPV survivors have experienced physical injury as a result of IPV. Further, 20% of homicide victims are due to the violence of their partner.

And while the stats and studies shared above cite “females” or “women”, IPV is not exclusive to any gender or relationship orientation. The CDC reports 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner. IPV crosses all socioeconomic, religious, ethnic and cultural groups – and deserves our attention more than ever.


What can I do?

Betties, addressing intimate partner violence is critical to providing solutions and care, especially for those experiencing it now. Removing oneself from unhealthy relationships can be incredibly traumatic, and most of all, difficult. But there is hope and resources for those experiencing IPV. The more these resources are utilized, the more support can find Betties and prevent the harm caused by IPV.

Your safety and well-being matters.


Here are some resources:

Non-urgent resources for IPV

San Antonio Family Violence Prevention and Services:



Bexar County Safety Plan + Resource Guide:

Click HERE to access


National Safety Hotline:

1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

Text “START” to 88788


Texas Department of Human Services Hotline:



Urgent resources for IPV

If urgent, but non-immediate safety concerns exist, you may call your local

Family Violence Prevention and Services



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