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Intimate Partner Violence

Read in 7 mins
April 25, 2022
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Dr Kanika ChopraMBBS, MS Obstetrics and Gynecology
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A major topic of concern and mostly untalked about, for various reasons is IPV.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is defined as an abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. An intimate partner is a current/former spouse or a dating partner. The violence could be in any form- Physical including beating, grabbing; Sexual; stalking or Psychological aggression including insult, infidelity, verbal abuse, belittling and humiliation. Even controlling partner’s behavior like keeping the partner isolated from friends and family and restricting access to finances, health services is also included.

This is a very common health issue and often takes to the mental health of the sufferer too. It is a very common public health problem. IPV is usually under-reported and is due to acceptance by the sufferers especially females that this is a normal part of their lives. According to data from CDC, USA,National intimate partner and sexual violence survey, about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced some kind of IPV. According to WHO multi-national survey, 13-61% surveyed women experienced physical violence and 6-59% sexual violence. 1 In India, IPV is prevalent in nearly 40% of women. 2 It can start from teen age and continue till old age, with no specific age limit defined. IPV is also reported during pregnancy.

There are many factors associated with IPV. In Asian society, specifically, male dominance in society,low socioeconomic status, low education level, inequality of women, unemployment. Further the factors such as use of alcohol or drug abuse, psychiatry disorder among males, lack of financial independence in majority of women aggravates it.

IN Asian societies specifically, it’s the conditioning that tells the women to succumb and adjst to this and not to mention or talk about it, as it would harm their reputation or affect their family and has social implications. This however, is incorrect and unacceptable.

There exist even societal norms when come to upgrading the incidence of IPV and these are:

  • Man has a right to show his dominance over woman.
  • Man should physically discipline woman.
  • Sexual intercourse is man’s right in marriage and he does not require woman’s consent.

Furthermore, the guilt feeling of affecting their children life by voicing against the violence, risk of getting separated from their children in case of separation from violent partner, lack of knowledge about existing laws protecting women’s rights, lack of empathy among friends, families and even authorities who they discuss their issues with are some of the female versions when asked about the reasons of tolerating the violence and bad behavior.

tolerating bad behavior

Intimate Partner Violence can be associated with serious physical disabilities, mental ill-health and in extreme conditions even death. There can be ailments affecting various organ systems heart, digestive system, muscles, bones, reproduction and nervous system. Unwanted pregnancy, complications during pregnancy,abortions more likely unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, pelvic inflammatory diseases, chronic pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction are also rampant among women exposed to IPV. There can be increased prevalence of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and suicidal tendency. As per the WHO survey, abused women were twice likely to report poor physical,mental and sexual health as compared to non-abused women. Even homicides are also prevalent in cases of IPV. Children exposed to IPV are in turn the source of child-hood abuse, distorted relationship and in turn IPV in future.



The teaching and training should start from very early years of the child. Educating each child about their do’s and don’ts and about everyone’s right to express their ideas and needs is the basis.Teaching safe and healthy relationship skills are equally important. These training can further be extended to affected couples and families as well when IPV is detected. The role of positive media is equally important which will help by raising awareness regarding the available legislation and also equally important is the role of esteemed law makers to reform the laws in the best favor of the victims of IPV. Empowering women at family, community, state and National levels should be the aim of each and every individual in order to help them in raising their concern.

There is still a scope of improvement in context of helping and supporting any woman complaining of IPV. All the authorities need to be sensitized and responsive. Government of India in 2018 have made amendments to Criminal Law Act to prescribe rigorous penal provision against sexual offense. Other laws are also there like Protection of women against domestic violence, 2005 and Section 498A IPC that can protect women in cases of IPV. But, the need of hour is gender neutral laws to protect not only females but also male partners who are victims of IPV.

BE SENSITIVE, HEAR, FEEL AND TRY TO HELP those in NEED to save a life.


1) Garcia-Moreno C et al. WHO multicentric study on women’s health and domestic violence against women: initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s response. Geneva: WHO, 2005.

2) Yoshikawa K, Aggarwal NR et al. Lifetime experience of violence and adverse reproductive
outcome: findings from population survey in India. Biosci Trends. 2012; 6(3): 115-121.

Dr Kanika Chopra

Dr. Kanika Chopra (MBBS, MS Obstetrics and Gynecology) is working as an Assistant Professor in Lady Hardinge Medical College, New DELHI. She has also worked as an Associate consultant in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi in the minimally invasive surgery unit. A dynamic and diligent doctor, she was awarded the BEST POST-GRADUATE AWARD in her residency period and has received many prizes for her work. An avid writer and researcher, she has authored over 30 articles in both National and International Journals, and wellness magazines.

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