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When Intimate Relationships Turn Violent

PublishedFeb12,2021

Byline: Loraine Fleming, DNP, PMHNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, Clinical Editor

Romantic or intimate relationships can enrich us, providing pleasure and enjoyment as well as support and solace. Unfortunately, however, some relationships take an unhealthy turn, leading to situations that cause one or both partners to feel fear and anxiety. Fear of abuse perpetrated by a current or previous romantic partner and anxiety about not being able to stay safe. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a major public health problem worldwide, affecting more than 12 million people each year, and although females are more often the victims, men are also victims of IPV.

IPV can involve physical abuse such as hitting, kicking or battering the victim; sexual abuse involving forced sexual contact including rape; psychological abuse, which may encompass demeaning or embarrassing the victim, threatening them or their pet or isolating them from family and friends; financial abuse or restricting access to financial resources and stalking. According to domestic violence statistics, nearly half of all women and men in the U.S. have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

It can start in early adolescence with teen dating violence and continue into old age with ongoing elder abuse. IPV can lead to serious injuries, chronic medical and psychiatric conditions or even death.

Stressors such as financial issues, family conflict, health problems and unplanned pregnancy can exacerbate the violence of IPV. Since the violence of IPV typically escalates, it is important to identify the problem early and get help.

For more information on the topic, visit the CDC resource on preventing intimate partner violence. You can also access the Patient Education resources on Elsevier’s Mental and Behavioral Health Hub to support patients who have experienced abuse in a relationship.

Loraine Fleming

Loraine Fleming
Loraine Fleming

DNP, PMHNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, Clinical Editor