3 Important Facts About Domestic Violence

Feb 21, 2020

Key points regarding intimate partner violence.



1. Domestic violence involving partners or ex-partners: intimate partner violence

IPV is both physical and emotional. Domestic violence can involve other components such as child victims Physical violence ranges from "minor" (spitting, shoving) to "severe" (punching, use of a weapon). Common physical health sequelae from IPV may include:

• contusions

• soft tissue injuries

• sprains and strains

• fractures

• maxillofacial injuries

• traumatic brain injuries

Psychological and emotional abuse is no less damaging and can cause long-lasting invisible wounds. Forms of emotional abuse:

• threats of violence

• intimidation

• denigration

• financial abuse

• threats or harm toward pets or children

• humiliation

• coercion


2. IPV is an equal-opportunity offense that occurs across all groups regardless of




•cultural background


Males can be victims, too:

It is important to note that counseling for IPV perpetrators is widely available, with well over 1000 programs in the US.

Most of these programs, however, predominantly serve court-mandated populations and are focused on men who have assaulted women.

Men and women show near-equal rates of IPV perpetration with women perpetrating at slightly higher rates, at least according to some research.1,2

While men cause the bulk of physical injury, many men are unwilling to come forward if they have been physically abused for fear of stigma or not being believed

Although clinical approaches based on long-standing models of IPV intervention have modest efficacy, there is a solid conceptual rationale for several alternative strategies for IPV perpetrators.


1. Dutton DG, Nicholls TL. The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory: part 1. The conflict of theory and data. Aggress Violent Behav. 2005;10:680-714.

2. Strauss MA. Gender symmetry and mutuality in perpetration of clinical-level partner violence: Empirical evidence and implications for prevention and treatment. Aggress Violent Behav. 2011;16:278-288.



3. Keep in mind the risk factors

• Physical abuse victimization and/or witnessing inter-adult abuse in childhood

• A history of conduct disorder or antisocial personality traits or disorder

• PTSD in military veteran populations

• Psychopathology, such as depression, dysthymia, generalized anxiety, alcohol dependence, and non-affective psychosis

• Negative emotion dysregulation, such as borderline personality features, disorganized/insecure attachment, and problems with anger mangement

• Substance use and alcohol use disorders

• Prior head injury with neurocognitive impairments that involve impulsivity, poor response inhibition, and executive dysfunction


For more information, see Interventions for Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence, on which this Tipsheet is based.

This article was originally posted on August 18, 2016, and has since been updated.