Breaking the Cycle of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Friday, December 17, 2021 by Dr James H Dotson Jr

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

There is no uniform definition of intimate partner violence. According to the CDC Injury Center, intimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse or aggression that occurs between intimate partners. In this context, “intimate partner” refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners (e.g., romantic or sexual partner; husband or wife; boyfriends or girlfriends; or people who one dated, were seeing, or “hooked up”).

IPV can include physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and/or psychological aggression. The one who inflicts the abuse is typically called the abuser, offender, or perpetrator. The one who is abused is typically called the victim. IPV is also sometimes referred to as domestic violence or family violence.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) reports that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported an IPV-related impact during their lifetime.

What Are the Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence?

The consequences of intimate partner violence vary depending on several factors. However, below are the consequences that appear to be the most common.

  • Depression
  • General anxiety, paranoia, or fear
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Difficulty trusting self
  • Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Distrust of authority figures, or people in general
  • Loss of job and/or income, and poverty
  • Relationship struggles
  • Sleeping disorders or eating disorders
  • Destructive lifestyle patterns, such as drug and/or alcohol addiction
  • Questions about God and God’s love and
  • Physical disorders, illness, injury, disability, or death

Why Do They Stay?

Those on the outside who are looking at an abusive relationship often wonder or ask the question: Why do you stay? To an outsider, the solution seems so simple: just leave!!!

But many don’t. Why?

In their series titled Breaking the Silence, the Women’s Ministries Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church offered the following as some of the reasons a person stays in an abusive relationship:

  • Fearful for his/her life.
  • He/She has no other choice.
  • He/She will be accused of lying.
  • He/She will lose his/her children.
  • Embarrassed to tell people.
  • Feels it is his/her Christian duty to keep marriage together no matter what.
  • Telling on older people is disrespectful.
  • Guilt for what may happen to abuser if he/she leaves.
  • Feels responsible for abuser’s actions.
  • He/She feels abuse is deserved.
  • He/She may not get support from family and friends.
  • A need to hold on to the good times in the relationship.
  • Abuse may get worse if he/she tries to leave.
  • Feels he/she may be strong enough to handle abusive situation.
  • Fearful about surviving financially without abusive spouse.
  • Hopes that abuser may change or has genuine love for abuser.

What Can You Do If You Are Now In An Abusive Relationship?

Here are three steps you can take to start.

First, if you and/or your children are in imminent danger of injury or death, call 911. Your safety and/or that of your children is your first priority.

Second, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Intimate partner violence is often repeated again and again and again. You need help to break this cycle. Contact The Hotline at:

  • Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1.800.787.3224
  • Text "START" to 88788
  • Visit The Hotline online at

And please know that:

  • Violence is never justifiable.
  • Abuse is not a loss of control; rather it is a means of control. It may appear as if it is a temporary loss of temper, but it is more often a partner’s way of intimidating, dominating, controlling, and/or exercising power in the relationship.
  • You did not cause the abuse.
  • You are not to blame for the abuse.
  • You are not crazy.
  • You cannot change your partner’s behavior.
  • Apologies and promises apart from treatment will not end the violence.
  • Things do not improve without intervention — they usually get worse.

Intimate partner violence is often a cycle that is repeated: (1) Tension—a buildup of tension and rage; (2) Explosion—a violent outburst resulting in abuse of the victim; and (3) Contrition—seeming remorse by the abuser and promises to never do it and to get help, which are often accompanied by gifts and displays of affection. This cycle usually is repeated over and over and over again.

For most, it will take an experienced and skilled person to help you break out of this cycle and work through all the issues that must be addressed. Seek help!

Finally, check out additional resources in the Abuse and Exploitation section of our Online Resources Center.

Copyright © 2021 Training for Transformation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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