Domestic Violence Prevention
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an often hidden form of violence among intimate partners (i.e., spouses, boy/girlfriends, past partners), occuring across all socioeconomic groups, increasingly in adolescent relationships. The new National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)1, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), documents IPV as a widespread problem and a major public health issue. Results from this representative survey of adult women and men in the United States indicate that:
- About 1 in 4 women (24%) and 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
- About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced it between 11 and 17 years of age. Nearly 47% of women and 39% of men were between 18 and 24 years old when the violence first occurred.
- Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men that have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime reported at least one impact related to these experiences, including: sustaining injury, needing health care, being fearful, being concerned for safety, having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, or missing at least one day of work or school.
- More than half (51%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner.
The NISVS also estimates that about 33% of California women—about 4.5 million—have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. Results from the 2008 California Women’s Health Survey further strengthens our understanding of IPV by reporting that about 6% of women (641,000) in California had experienced at least one incident of psychological or physical IPV during the last 12 months before responding to the survey.2 Results from the California Healthy Kids Survey also reinforces our need to prevent IPV among youth. Seven percent of eleventh grade students in California report experiencing physical violence in their dating relationships during the last 12 months.3
Impact on Public Health
These alarming statistics support the need for critical prevention programs, especially for adolescents aged 10-24. More than half of the victims of violence and abuse had their first experience in adolescence, which further increases negative health outcomes across the lifespan. Victims of IPV are more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitations, and poor physical and mental health than men and women who did not experience IPV. Women are especially affected; women were more likely to report having asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes than those who did not experience IPV.1 Victims of IPV and sexual violence make more visits to health providers over their lifetime, have more hospital stays, have longer duration of hospital stays, and are at risk for a wide range of physical, mental, reproductive, and other health consequences over their lifetime than non-victims.4 , 5 Teens involved in dating violence are also more likely to do poorly in school, engage in sexual intercourse, report binge drinking, suicide attempts, and physical aggression in their adult relationships.6 Destructive relationships that occur during the teen years can lead to life-long unhealthy relationship practices, may disrupt normal development, and can contribute to other unhealthy behaviors in teens that, if left unchecked, can lead to problems over a lifetime.
Ending Intimate Partner Violence in California
The goal of the California Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Training and Education Program is to prevent IPV from ever happening in the first place, with a focus on providing training, technical assistance, and grants to community-based organizations that teach young people to engage in healthy, respectful relationships. It is important that public health agencies provide leadership and support in in building community-based prevention initiatives that address IPV and teen dating violence, or adolescent relationship abuse. The severe health consequences of IPV for individuals and communities demand the attention and contributions of public health professionals in order to prevent injuries, save lives, and build safe and healthy communities in California.
1View the complete NISVS report and toolkit online at http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs
2California Women’s Health Survey, 2008, unpublished data.
3California Healthy Kids Survey, 2008. California Department of Education.
4 Basile, K.C., & Smith, S.G. Sexual violence victimization of women: Prevalence, characteristics, and the role of public health and prevention. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 5, 407−417. 2011.
5Black, M.C. Intimate partner violence and adverse health consequences: Implications for clinicians. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 5, 428–439. 2011.
6Banyard VL, Cross C. Consequences of teen dating violence: Understanding intervening variables in ecological context. Violence Against Women. 2008.