Forms of Intimate Partner Violence

A Comprehensive Look at the Many Different Forms Intimate Partner Violence Can Take.

When most people think of what domestic violence is, what they are actually thinking of is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). IPV is violence and/or aggression that takes place between two partners who are engaged in an intimate relationship. Just as every relationship is different, the form that IVP takes within an unhealthy relationship is often different as well. Common variables include the frequency and severity of the violence. One thing is clear though; IPV does not discriminate. It can happen to women and men of any ethnicity, religion, social status, age, or disability (Veterans Affairs).


Types of IPV

Every relationship varies in what form of violence is perpetrated. There is a myriad of different types of IPV. A few examples are:

Physical Violence:

This is the form of IPV that is most commonly thought of and noticed. It involves some form of physical force being used against the victim that causes an injury. Common forms are slapping, punching, kicking, stabbing, shooting, or even forcing another to use drugs. While it is easy to see a swollen lip, a bruise, or a black eye; it does not matter how serious the injury is for it to be IPV. If one partner simply slaps the other one time, it is considered an example of the physical form of IPV. (Find Law).

Sexual Violence:

This type of abuse is far more common between partners than often realized. It is not uncommon for one partner to rape or sexually assault the other. However, it may consist simply of sexual harassment or unwanted touching and advances. Most people do not realize just how many ways there are for sexual violence to take place between intimate partners. In fact, there is a whole class of sexual IVP that many do not even realize they have experienced. This class of violence is known as “reproductive coercion” (Find Law). Reproductive coercion involves one partner controlling the other’s reproductive choices. This might be done through the banning of certain birth control methods, or may even involve determining the other partner’s choice when it comes to the issue of abortion.

Emotional Violence:

This form of IPV is much less talked about and a lot harder to understand. It is often seen as normal as it is quite prevalent in unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, for the victim, this misunderstanding often makes the abuse all that much more painful. At its core, emotional violence is one partner acting in a manner that takes away the other’s sense of self-worth. This is usually accomplished through consistent humiliation, insult, or criticism. (Find Law).

Psychological Violence:

This type of abuse is particularly disturbing as it causes one partner to live in a constant state of fear. “Psychological abuse is basically a catchall term for intimidating, threatening, or fear-causing behavior” (Find Law). Many actions fall under this type of abuse. Examples might include: preventing a partner leaving the house, or threatening a partner with violence or blackmail if an action is performed that the abuser has deemed “unacceptable.”

Financial Violence:

This type of abuse is perhaps the least obvious to outsiders as most intimate partners pool their money together into joint accounts. This seemingly innocuous act of joint ownership in one relationship can take on an all too subtle controlling tone in another. It may start with one partner taking responsibility for most of the funds of the household or overseeing payment of the bills, but may end with one partner becoming completely dependent on the other for everyday items such as food and clothing. This may seem like an extreme example; however, it is much more common than one might think. One partner might even keep the other form getting an education or job outside of the house. Financial reliance on one another for some may end up an all too slippery slope for others.  (Find Law).


The above categories are just a few examples of the many forms that IPV can take. With so many different types of abuse, it is no surprise that an estimated one-third of women and one-fourth of men will experience some form of IPV within their lifetime (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). It is an all too common problem that has even been called a worldwide “epidemic…that has devastating physical, emotional, financial and social effects…” (The Advocates for Human Rights). However, there is hope. Every day, victims are choosing to leave their abusers and taking the long journey towards healing. With organizations such as Pets Empower keeping victims connected to a vital part of their support system, I am confident these victims will succeed in creating a brighter future.