What You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Jen Womeldorf, MSN-Ed, RN, CPN

Fist punching into a hand

Every student dreams of a college experience filled with wondrous learning and new adventures in and out of the classroom, often coupled with the joy of sharing the journey with newfound friends. Although stumbling blocks are anticipated when pursuing any new goal, conflicts within relationships can create significant barriers to personal growth. Sometimes, these conflicts result in potentially life-threatening acts of intimate partner violence (IPV), also referred to as domestic violence. You may be thinking, “But I’m not even dating anyone. What does intimate partner violence (IPV) have to do with me?”

What Is IPV?

The words “violence” and “abuse” are often misunderstood to refer to physical events only. Students should be aware of and alert for warning signs of IPV in their own relationships and the interactions of those around them.

It is important to understand that IPV is a result of one partner intentionally exerting control and power over the other partner. Intimate partner violence can be inflicted by a current or former intimate partner, such as a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend or dating partner and may include any of the following: physical, sexual or psychological aggression or abuse (Breiding et al., 2015). The victim and abuser do not need to live under the same roof. Relatives, close friends and roommates can also be considered intimate partners—intimate in this sense is anyone who knows the victim’s inner person well. Who knows your likes, dislikes, dreams, goals and fears nearly as well as you do? Those are your intimate partners.

But IPV Is Rare, Right?

Although we may not hear about many incidences of IPV, it happens a lot more frequently than most students realize. IPV knows no boundaries: it is not limited to persons within certain financial, social, sexual, cultural, religious, or age-defined communities. A national survey by the Office for Victims of Crime (2018) reports that approximately 47 percent of both women and men will face psychological aggression by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime and that in 82 percent of the IPV victimizations, the victim did not seek or receive any support from a victim service agency. GCU’s pre-licensure nursing students study crisis management nursing in-depth in the second level Behavioral Health Nursing course (NSG-322). Student nurses learn to assess clients of all ages for signs of IPV, apply interventions to promote client safety and well-being and understand the obligations and limitations of the registered nurse when IPV is identified. IPV is further explored in the level three course Nursing Care of the Childbearing Family (NSG-432), with a focus on nursing care for clients during pregnancy, when the risk for IPV is extremely high.

Why Don’t Victims Report IPV?

Acts of IPV are very personal and often the victim of this type of intimate abuse feels very alone, sometimes embarrassed for putting themselves in a situation where this could even happen. More often, the abusers have groomed the victims to receive the abuse. Grooming takes place over time, with little statements that serve to make the victim feel unworthy, incapable or at fault for any issues that arise in the relationship. Remember that these are intimate partners—they know the victims very well and through grooming, can assert a great deal of control over the victim. It is possible for someone to be the victim of grooming and have no idea it is occurring to them.

What Can I Do?

Knowledge is power. The more you know about IPV, the better you can spot red flags in your own relationships and be a support for those around you who may be experiencing this very personal type of abuse. If you are a victim of any IPV and need support, please reach out for help. If you are in an immediate, life-threatening or emergency situation, call 911 or GCU Public Safety at (602) 639-8100. Community resources include the La Frontera Empact Crisis Line (480) 784-1500, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, and the EMPACT Suicide Prevention Line at (480) 736-4950. Community crisis resources and Public Safety are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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  • Breiding, M. J., Basile, K. C., Smith, S. G., Black, M. C., & Mahendra, R. R. (2015). Intimate partner violence surveillance: Uniform definitions and recommended data elements, version 2.0. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv/intimatepartnerviolence.pdf
  • Office for Victims of Crime, U. S. Department of Justice. (2018). Intimate partner violence fact sheet. Retrieved from https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw2018/info_flyers/fact_sheets/2018NCVRW_IPV_508_QC.pdf

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.