Intimate Partner Abuse (Domestic Violence)

What is Intimate Partner Abuse?

Intimate partner abuse (domestic violence) describes the injuries that come from abuse in a domestic relationship. Often called domestic violence, it takes the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse by one partner in the relationship. While men are more commonly the abusers in intimate partner abuse, women can also be abusers.

Domestic violence occurs in relationships between people of all ages and backgrounds. An estimated 5 million women are in relationships where their partner abuses them in some way.

What are the Symptoms of Intimate Partner Abuse?

Signs of domestic abuse can be varied depending the situation. Victims of domestic violence may have obvious physical signs such as bruising, scrapes and burn marks. In other cases, there are no apparent physical signs. Emotional abuse can be damaging to the victim but leave no physical marks.

Other symptoms may include anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, sexual dysfunction and suicidal behavior.

Abusers may have some factors in common, including low self esteem, tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol, anger and hostility, antisocial or borderline personality traits, and a history of violence or abuse.

How is Intimate Partner Abuse Treated?

Intimate partner abuse can be treated by leaving the relationship, although that can be difficult in some situations. Many communities have resources for abused women to leave an abusive relationship, with or without children.

Abusers can sometimes be willing to change through therapy. For the person receiving the abuse, however, it may be safer to leave the relationship while the abuser works through their issues.

Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017