Intimate Partner Violence

Some individuals may find the information on this page triggering. If you feel the need to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, we encourage you to do so. You can reach the hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. The Hotline also has an online chat, accessible here (select “Chat Now”).

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It can include physical or sexual violence, emotional abuse and intimidation, verbal abuse, isolation, and financial abuse. Any individual, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic background, educational level, or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together, or simply dating.

IPV includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of IPV can occur at any one time within the same intimate relationship. The power and control wheel includes the different types of IPV and examples of each type.  It is accessible here.

You can learn more about how IPV can look in LGBTQ relationships, in relationships where one of the parties is an immigrant or disabled, or how pregnancy can impact abuse. The Hotline also provides statistics on domestic violence.

If you believe that your relationship may be abusive, there is help. You can call the Hotline (1-800-799-7233) and talk to a professional. We encourage you to develop a safety plan with an individual in your life whom you can trust. You are more than deserving of a healthy relationship.

For those who would like to learn more, we recommend the following books, documentaries, television shows, and Ted talks. For self care books and other resources, click here.

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Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook by Mari McCaig MSW and Edward S. Kubany PhD ABPP

Based on a clinically proven set of techniques called cognitive trauma therapy (CTT), the exercises in this workbook will help you address feelings of guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, and stress. You’ll learn how to break down the negative thoughts that might be cycling in your mind and how to replace them with positive, constructive affirmations. Later in the program, you’ll be guided through controlled exposure to abuse reminders, which will enable you to face the fears you might otherwise spend a lifetime avoiding. The program begins and ends with techniques for becoming your own best advocate—an informed, confident person with all the strength you need to create the secure, fulfilling life you deserve.

It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence by Meg Kennedy Dugan and Roger R Hock

It’s My Life Now offers readers the practical guidance, emotional reassurance, and psychological awareness that survivors of relationship abuse and domestic violence need to heal and reclaim their lives after leaving their abusers.

Chain, Chain, Change: For Black Women in Abusive Relationships by Evelyn C. White

Offering practical information for African-American women in physically or emotionally abusive relationships, the editor of The Black Women’s Health Book discusses identifying abuse, the cycle of violence, agencies and shelters, and using the legal system.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg

In this brave and beautiful memoir, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse—examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke free. Mesmerizing and poetic, Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a harrowing, cautionary, and ultimately redemptive tale that brilliantly illuminates one woman’s transformation as she gradually rejects the painful reality of her violent life at the hands of the man who is supposed to cherish her, begins to accept responsibility for herself, and learns to believe that she deserves better.

Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence by Alex Roslin

“Police Wife” gives a rare front-seat look at the amazing struggles and courage of abused police spouses worldwide—from Los Angeles to Montreal, Puerto Rico and South Africa—the ordeals of a handful of intrepid cops trying to change policing from within and why the abuse is an epidemic, one that may be getting worse. “Police Wife”, the first investigative book on the epidemic, shows how abuse in police families affects us all and is closely linked to botched responses to 911 domestic calls at other homes, police killings of African Americans, police sexual harassment of female cops and young female drivers at traffic stops, and growing inequality in our communities.

Battle Cries: Black Women and Intimate Partner Abuse by Hillary Potter

Battle Cries is an eye-opening examination of African American women’s experiences with intimate partner abuse, the methods used to contend with abusive mates, and the immediate and enduring consequences resulting from the maltreatment. Based on intensive interviews with 40 African American women abused by their male partners, Potter’s analysis takes into account variations in their experiences based on socioeconomic class, education level, and age, and discusses the common abuses and perceptions they share. Combining her remarkable findings with black feminist thought and critical race theory, Potter offers a unique and significant window through which we can better understand this understudied though rampant social problem.

But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships by Jill Murray

In But I Love Him, Dr. Murray identifies these controlling, abusive patterns of behavior and helps you get your daughter out of the relationship without alienating her. You will learn what draws her to this type of relationship, why she has a hard time talking to you about it, the special barriers teens face when breaking off a relationship, and what’s going on in the mind of a teen abuser. Dr. Murray will help you show your teen what a respectful relationship looks like and teach her the importance of respecting herself.

Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner

At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: good looks, a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job in New York City. Plus a handsome, funny boyfriend who adored her. But behind her façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret. She’d made a mistake shared by millions: she fell in love with the wrong person. At first, Leslie and Conor seemed perfect together. Then came the fights she tried to ignore: he pushed her down the stairs, choked her during an argument, and threatened her with a gun. Several times, he came close to making good on his threat to kill her. With each attack, Leslie lost another piece of herself. Why didn’t she leave? She stayed because she loved him. Gripping and utterly compelling, Crazy Love takes you inside the violent, devastating world of abusive love and makes you feel the power and powerlessness of abuse that can take place anywhere and to anyone. Crazy Love draws you in — and never lets you go. View Leslie’s TedTalk here.

Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (Interpersonal Violence) by Evan Stark

Coercive Control breaks through entrenched views of physical abuse that have ultimately failed to protect women. Evan Stark, founder of one of America’s first battered women’s shelters, shows how “domestic violence” is neither primarily domestic nor necessarily violent, but a pattern of controlling behaviors more akin to terrorism and hostage-taking. Stark details coercive strategies that men use to deny women their very personhood and urges us to move beyond the injury model and focus on the real victimization that allows men to violate women’s human rights with impunity. Coercive Control reframes abuse as a liberty crime rather than a crime of assault and points the way to bringing “real” equality for women in line with their formal rights to personhood and citizenship, freedom and safety.

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Private Violence (2014) is a 2014 American documentary film directed and produced by Cynthia Hill. The film focuses on the issue of domestic violence, as told through two survivors. Ultimately, the film centers on dispelling the logic of the commonly asked question: “Why didn’t she just leave?”

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TV Shows

You, a fictional Netflix series, follows main character Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager and serial killer who falls in love with a customer and quickly develops an extreme, toxic, and delusional obsession. After its premiere, the show sparked online discussions regarding Joe’s stalking habits and whether they should be romanticized. See the Season 1 trailer here.

Ted Talks

Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why domestic violence victims don’t leave

Trigger Warning: Descriptions of acts of domestic violence.

Leslie Morgan Steiner was in “crazy love” — that is, madly in love with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. Steiner tells the story of her relationship, correcting misconceptions many people hold about victims of domestic violence, and explaining how we can all help break the silence.

Esta Soler: How we turned the tide on domestic violence (hint: the polaroid helped)

Trigger Warning: Mentions domestic violence.

When Esta Soler lobbied for a bill outlawing domestic violence in 1984, one politician called it the “Take the Fun Out of Marriage Act.” “If only I had Twitter then,” she mused. In this sweeping, optimistic talk, Soler charts 30 years of tactics and technologies — from the Polaroid camera to social media — that led to a 64% drop in domestic violence in the U.S.

Dina McMillon: Unmasking the Abuser

Trigger Warning: Descriptions of emotional and psychological manipulation 

Women are the predominant victims of violence at the hands of men they know. Dina McMillan teaches women how to identify the signs of potential violence before it happens. In 2006 she identified the specific tactics used by abusers to establish and maintain abusive relationships.

Shannon Isom: Domestic violence does bear fruit

Trigger Warning: Mentions of domestic violence 

If domestic violence has not been a part of your life, does it really affect you? Shannon Isom is an administrator of a non-profit whose mission involves empowering women and eliminating racism. She notes that the understanding of domestic violence has a few inherent flaws that make a difference on how we view it and that understanding these flaws will ultimately connect us all.

Kristin Carmichael: Can abuse feel good?

Trigger Warning: Mentions of acts of domestic violence, cycle of violence.

Kristin Carmichael discusses the intricacies of domestic violence that she has witnessed through her work at a women’s shelter. In her talk, she examines how the cycle of violence led one of her clients back to their abuser and how victims of domestic violence sometimes have to weigh the cost of staying against the cost of leaving.

Javier Espinoza: Turning pain into power

Trigger Warning: Descriptions of acts of domestic violence

For six years now Javier Espinoza has directed “In A Box,” an initiative that provides essential items to women and children living in domestic violence shelters. Through this program, personal care items are aesthetically packed into big boxes and sent to shelters. His passion for domestic violence prevention and gender education stem from his childhood as a low-income, first generation, Mexican American male. He was raised by a single, affectionate mom who took her kids and fled from a life of domestic violence. Because of this, he grew up thinking, “if my mom could raise five kids on her own, on a house cleaning salary, there’s nothing women can’t do.”

*Material adopted from The National Domestic Violence Hotline.