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Intimate partner violence is beyond skin deep.

Yes, the bruises appear. The tears, they dry.  The scars, they heal.  The smile sometimes reappears with a glimmer of hope, but left are the invisible scars of abuse.  Intimate partner violence (IPV) is much more than skin deep. It disguises itself in a variety of ways such that even the perpetrator does not realize its mask and the survivor thinks it’s love. But what lies beneath the surface of the skin is much more complex than meets the eye.

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What is intimate partner violence?

The term “intimate partner violence” or “IPV” describes physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and may or may not be sexual in nature. IPV can vary in frequency and severity. It most often occurs on a continuum, ranging from insults, to chronic, severe battering. IPV encompasses a broad range of abusive behaviors including: physical violence, sexual violence, psychological abuse, economical abuse, stalking, sex trafficking, harassment, and threats of physical or sexual violence.

Who experiences IPV?

The picture of a survivor does not have a specific face or look. Not all individuals in abusive relationships come from broken, fatherless or motherless homes, have low self-esteem, hate themselves or live in poverty. Many survivors of IPV are well educated, successful, professional women and men that come from high socio-economic backgrounds. IPV does not discriminate against class, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, political, religious or social affiliation.

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It’s about power and control!

IPV is all about power and control. The abuser uses their power to maintain control over their victim. There are a variety of ways that the abuser maintains control. Some of those ways include: gaining their trust with small acts of kindness, breaking down self-esteem, convincing them they do not deserve better, use of intimidation, threats, humiliation, economic depravity, isolation from family and friends, harassment, physical violence, sexual violence and so much more. Once the abuser has complete control over their victim, the victim is less likely to leave and/or get help and in some cases, begin to sympathize with their abuser.

What triggers it?

IPV is comprised of various dynamics that contribute to the abuse. The violence that perpetrates the abuse can stem from negative intergenerational patterns, childhood abuse, lack of self-esteem and self-efficacy, lack of income, too much income, substance use/abuse, poverty, unemployment and mental health issues. Although research states that these factors, alone or combined, may offer justification for having an influence on triggering individuals to be abusive, there is still no excuse for abuse!

Beyond Skin Deep: What You Must Know About Intimate Partner Violence  was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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