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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: August 2009

2 - Intimate partner violence


Goals and objectives

To understand the dynamics of intimate partner violence (IPV) and its effects on patients

To recognize the spectrum of clinical (non-traumatic & traumatic) presentations of intimate partner violence

To learn appropriate screening, treatment, documentation, and referral of victims of intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence as a health issue

Intimate partner violence is a significant patient health issue. While IPV was previously treated by law enforcement as a couple's “private matter,” it is now clearly recognized that IPV has significant medical ramifications that can extend to other family members, friends, and co-workers, and can affect the health and safety of the general public. In many cases the emergency department (ED) or emergency medical services (EMS) provide these patients' first-line medical assessment.


The previously used term, “wife-beating,” made the assumptions that physical abuse by a male was perpetrated upon a female with whom he cohabited in a current marital relationship. It is now recognized that a much broader definition is necessary to include physical, emotional, sexual, or financial control by one person over another, who are or have previously been in an intimate relationship, regardless of gender, marital, or habitation status.

While data sharing and reporting is often hampered by safety and confidentiality concerns, in the United States, approximately 5.3 million incidents occur annually, affecting approximately 1.8 million individuals, with an annual prevalence of 3 percent, and a lifetime prevalence of 29 percent for women and 22 percent for men.

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