Intimate Partner Violence
Disclaimer: this article will discuss sensitive information that may be triggering, please find resources below for support.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) and is a form of violence experienced at the hands of an intimate partner. IPV is experienced across all socio-economic backgrounds, age groups, religions, cultures, and in all types of relationships including same-sex relationships. Intimate partner violence can take many forms but in general, it is any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm.
Some examples include :
- Emotional – teasing, using guilt, silent treatment, insults, belittling
- Psychological – intimidation, threats of harm, threatening suicide
- Verbal – Name-calling, swearing, yelling, being sarcastic or condescending
- Physical – such as hitting, beating, slapping kicking, pushing
- Sexual -including forced intercourse or any sexual activity that is coerced
- Reproductive coercion – sabotaging birth control, controlling the outcome of pregnancy
- Social – isolating you from friends and family, monitoring your calls
- Financial abuse- limiting, control, or misuse of partner’s money or resources
- Spiritual – using church and faith to his/her advantage, using scriptures against you
- Children – threatening/abusing children, using visitation as a leverage
- Culture – Using culture to condone abusive behaviors, forcing you to adopt his practices
- Intellectual – Making you prove things, mind games, attacking your ideas and opinions
It is important to note that one or a combination of abuse may occur in the same relationship. There is usually a pattern to this type of behavior that does not occur sequentially. These cycles are known as tension, explosion, and honeymoon phase.Most relationships start during the honeymoon phase where you will feel a period of intense courtship. In an established relationship, your partner will most likely be apologetic for his/her behavior and make promises to change. Tension starts to build after a while and some men will even distance themselves by using work or problems with the children as an excuse for this behavior. During this phase, you may notice your partner’s mood changes quickly, is emotionally distant, and accuses you of things you didn’t do. The next phase of this cycle is explosion, this is where your partner may give you the silent treatment, damages property, and is verbally/physically abusive.
Abuse leaves long-lasting psychological impacts and each of the above-mentioned phases can generate different feelings. For example, in the honeymoon phase, you may feel hopeful, confused, safe, or even guilty. In the tension phase, you may feel angry, depressed, and even keep yourself busy. And in the explosion phase, you may feel scared, want to run away, or even quiet. In the long run, you may experience a loss of identity, difficulty trusting others, reduction in confidence, damage to personal development/ growth and ability to participate in society, financial instability, and physical consequences including sexually transmitted infections.
It can be difficult to spot because intimate partner violence happens in private settings between two people and often behind closed doors. There is a lot of stigma surrounding IPV victims/ survivors who do not fit in a box and can be well-educated professionals. Some questions they may ask themselves are:
- How could they have gotten into a relationship with someone abusive?
- Why did I not see the signs from the beginning?
- How can I still love/ care for this person?
- Maybe this is what I deserve?
- What will my friends/ family say if I leave?
- Will I be rejected, shamed since separation/divorce is not allowed in my culture?
Be sensitive when offering support or engaging with someone who is experiencing intimate partner violence. Some signs to look out for to help bridge the conversation are:
- Unexplained physical bruises or frequent unexplainable injuries
- Changes in performance- work/ school
- Frequent absences
- Withdraws/ isolates from family and friends
- Consistently being monitored – partner asking where they are or tracking them
It is important to seek counseling to understand what you are dealing with and to gain support. Our job as therapists is to support you regardless of your decision to stay or leave the relationship. It is your decision ultimately! However, we encourage you to have a safety plan in place for you to have at your disposal when needed. The following is a shortlist of supports available in Edmonton.
Africa Centre Counselling Clinic – 1833 381 1242
Action for Healthy Communities – 780-887-3494
Aboriginal Counseling Services Association of Alberta Circle of Safety: 780-448-0378
Domestic Violence Complainant Program: 780-422-0721
Edmonton John Howard Society Family Violence Prevention Centre: 780-423-1635
Edmonton Violence Prevention Centre Changing PathWays: 780-439-4635 (group for adults who are/have been abusive to their partners)
Edmonton Women’s Shelter Limited (women with or without children; 24/7): 780-479-0058
Fostering Healthy Families – Family Violence Support Legal Aid Alberta Emergency Protection Order Program: 1-866-845-3425
Government of Alberta Family Violence Info Line: 310-1818
Islamic Family and Social Services Association: 780-430-9220
Lurana Shelter (women with or without children; 24/7): 780-424-5875
Rapid Action Health: 587- 852-5745
The Shaama Centre for Seniors and Women: 780-465-2992
The TODAY Family Violence Help Centre:780-455-6880 \Chat www.thetodaycentre.ca
J Cory and K McAndless-Davis. (2016). When love hurts: A woman’s guide to understanding abuse in relationships. New American Library
RCMP (2021). Retrieved from https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/relationship-violence/intimate-partner-violence-and-abuse
World health organization (2012). https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/77432/WHO_RHR_12.36_eng.pdf