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10 Things to Know about IPV, affecting 1 out of every 5 women over 15

Thomas Secrest's picture

One in 5 women of the age of 15 are victims of Intimate Partner Violence and over 1,000 are killed each year in the U.S. Globally, it is even worse.

IPV is something many of you may not have heard about. Here are 10 things you need to know.

1. Like a virus or bacteria, IPV can strike without warning.
2. Unlike the virus that causes chickenpox or hepatitis A, one occurrence does not provide life-long immunity from IPV.
3. Unlike the measles, chickenpox, polio, and many others, there is no vaccine for IPV.
4. Like STDs, IPV is rarely discussed in public and rarely discussed in schools.
5. Like encephalitis or meningitis, IPV can leave behavioral changes that persist for years or even a lifetime.
6. Like HIV, there is no cure for IPV.
7. Like HIV, IPV can leave bruising on various parts of the body.
8. Like leprosy, IPV can be disfiguring.
9. Like herpes, reoccurrences of IPV can be unpredictable.
10. Like Chlamydia, IPV is often underdiagnosed.

In North America, IPV affects 20 out of every hundred women over the age of 15. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the rates are as high as 65 out of every hundred women over 15. A meta-analysis* published on June 20 in Science, by the World Health Organization, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the South African Medical Research Council reported that in 2010, the global average for IPV was 30.0% (30 out of every 100) of women over the age of 15.

*A meta-analysis is a type of research in which the authors collect all the individual research done on a subject and then pool the information together to see if the collective data offers deeper insight into the problem.

What is IPV?

IPV stands for Intimate Partner Violence; and considering how many women are affected worldwide, it is an extremely serious health issue for women. Thirty percent is high enough, high enough to justify the word epidemic; however, the global average rises to 35% when violence by non-partners is included.

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Why are IPV rates so high?

It’s hard to explain an individual case of IPV, no doubt, each is as unique as a fingerprint. However, there is data to explain why it is under-reported. In an Editorial published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, Enrique Garcia listed some of the most common reasons:

1. Embarrassment
2. Fear of retaliation
3. Economic dependency
4. Imbalance of social power between men and women
5. Privacy of the family
6. Victim blaming attitudes

Are IPV rates accurate?

It may be that values given by the WHO are on the low side. University of Western Australia Professor of Social Work Donna Chung says most statistics underestimate the real extent of male violence against women. In Australia she found that only about 30% of domestic violence cases were reported to the police.

Where is the outrage?

Year in and year out, about 1,180 women die of IPV in North America and that’s assuming it is reported correctly and, in my opinion, it is under-reported. Definitely the number does not include the women who commit suicide because they fine their situation intolerable and unlivable, nor does it include the number of women who die early deaths as a result of the coping mechanisms they embrace to made it through another day.

Unfortunately, there is no outrage; even the official name, Intimate Partner Violence, is soft and non-threatening; it even has a cute purple ribbon for its symbol. IPV is tolerated, under-reported, under-discussed and swept under the rug because America still has many serious problems that are deeply rooted in our history and our society, and misogyny is one of them.