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The term domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) is described as “a pattern of abusive behavior used by one spouse to obtain or retain power and control over an intimate partner in any relationship.” It includes felony or misdemeanor violent crimes committed by the victim’s spouse, intimate partner, or a parent of the victim’s child.
Domestic violence involves various forms of abuse directed against the elderly, adults, and children. The abuse may be economic, physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological. In abusive intimate relationships, domestic violence takes the shape of stalking, economic abuse, Munchausen by proxy, neglect, psychological abuse, and sexual and physical violence. Almost every healthcare provider will witness, examine, or treat a patient who has been a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their career.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is a widespread issue in the United States that impacts an estimated 10 million people each year. This means “one in every four women and one in every nine men is a victim of domestic abuse.” The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) has estimated that there are approximately 4.8 million IPV-related physical assaults against women every year. It is also believed that less than 20% of assaulted and raped women sought medical attention following an incident.
Experts and policymakers acknowledge that domestic abuse and rape disproportionately affect women, especially young women, low-income women, and minority women. Women aged between 20 to 24 years are at the highest risk of nonfatal domestic violence. Women aged 24 and under are most likely to be raped. According to the US Justice Department, approximately one in five women will be raped, attempted rape, or sexually assaulted during their college years. Less than 5% of these rapes are reported to the authorities.
Income also plays a critical role in this cycle of violence. It has been observed that poorer households witness a higher rate of domestic violence. Women in the lowest income bracket are six times more likely to face nonfatal IPV assaults versus women in the highest income bracket. When race is considered, African-American women are victimized at a higher rate than white women. Moreover, American-Indian women are victimized at a rate that is more than double that of other women.
The profound effects of domestic violence are not confined to the home. It has a significant impact on women’s employment and workplaces. According to one recent study, it is estimated that women miss approximately eight million days of paid work each year due to domestic violence incidents. For many victims, their job performance suffers due to their trauma. Their abusive partners’ behavior forces these women to not only miss work but also be late, leave early, or prevent them from staying focused while at work.
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