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Intimate Partner Violence and Elder Abuse: The Basics

Course Number: 674

Definition of Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence: “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control."9 It occurs when such abuse is “perpetrated by one intimate partner against another” and is marked by one “partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.”9 IPV not only occurs in a current relationship, but can also be initiated and maintained by a former intimate partner.

This control may manifest in a variety of forms, including economic and emotional abuse,9 physical and verbal assault, threats of violence, kidnapping, harassment, criminal trespassing, or stalking.

Other Specific Definitions:

Physical Violence: As the name suggests, physical violence includes anything like slapping, pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking, beaten, burned on purpose, choking or suffocating an individual. Physical violence can also go as far as have weapons, such as knives or guns, used against the victim.5

Stalking: “harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly that causes the victim fear or safety concern, such as sending the victim unwanted presents, following or “laying in wait” for the victim, damaging or threatening to damage the victim's property, appearing at a victim's home or place of business, defaming the victim's character or spreading rumors, or harassing the victim via the Internet by posting personal information.”10 Many advocates recognize that stalking behaviors may “[signal] particular risk, as it has been linked with repeat violence (including lethal violence), increased psychological distress and diminished physical and mental health.”11

Sexual Violence: “forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in any sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event” such as sexting without consent.2 Most people just associate the term sexual violence with rape, but it is more than as you can see from the definition above.

Psychological Aggression/Abuse: using verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and/or to exert control over a partner.2 This can include insulting or humiliating the victim, making fun of the victim in front of others, and “coercive control and entrapment, which includes behaviors that are intended to monitor, control, or threaten an intimate partner.”5 This type of abuse is directly related to eroding a victim’s self-worth.