Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is described as domestic violence against an individual by a current or former spouse or sexual partner. It is a common but preventable public health concern not only in America but across the world. It takes many forms, and the most common ones are physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, financial, and sexual abuse by a spouse, or an intimate partner (CDC, 2020). It affects both men and women as well as people of different social, racial, economic, and sexual orientations.
As a nurse, I have encountered and cared for victims of IPV. Six months ago, I was providing care to a 20-year-old woman who had sustained third-degree burns. She had been attacked by a former boyfriend whom they had dated for one year and separated for two months. The woman had left the relationship because, for the one year that they had been intimate, the 25-year old boyfriend had subjected her to physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that left her psychologically drained. She left the relationship after encouragement by her elder sister, who also provided her with the financial and moral support to abandon the relationship, rebuild her life, and focus on her college education. However, this act was not received well by the former lover. He continued to stalk her physically through phone calls, text, and social media, and when she continued to ignore his actions, he tracked her to her house and set her on fire. Luckily, she was saved by neighbors and rushed to the hospital. The relationship, stalking, and the incident left her with physical and psychological suffering that we had to treat and help her overcome. Apart from the third-degree burns, she had emotions of fear, anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) played an integral part in the process of caring for the patient. TIC recognizes the prevalence and impact of abuse and traumatic events in people’s lives. It strives to provide care that acknowledges the presence of trauma, its symptoms, and effects on patients’ physical and mental health, as well as outcomes, recovery, and experiences (Bruce et al., 2018). When caring for the patient, my colleagues and I assessed and diagnosed the patient for trauma and used the TIC approach to provide care that would promote environments of healing and recovery rather than practices and services that may unconsciously re-traumatize. Hence, TIC is applicable and relevant when caring for IPV victims because undergoing domestic violence exposes them to trauma and other psychological disorders that harm their health, life, and general wellbeing.
There exist gender disparity in IPV. As mentioned earlier, anybody can be a victim of domestic violence or IPV. However, it is commonly experienced more by women as compared to men. According to Huecker and Smock (2020), one in every four women and one in every seven men experience physical abuse during their lifetime related to IPV. Additionally, one in every three women and one in every six men experience sexual violence during their lifetime associated with IPV (Huecker & Smock, 2020). Cultural and racial factors such as discrimination against women also contribute to IPV gender disparity, privilege, and barriers to access to healthcare for victims of IPV. Women have limited access to quality healthcare services after IPV because of socioeconomic factors such as lack of employment, inadequate financial capacity, and a lack of medical insurance. Though some triggers of IPV are related to social, cultural, and economic, others are related to the culprits’ personalities and past experiences.
Caring for the patient made me realize the importance of nurses’ ability to recognize and reduce IPV and health disparity in female victims of domestic violence. As such, I have begun to research, understand, and apply the TIC approach in providing care, recognizing trauma and victims of IPV. I also encourage women who are facing violence in their relationships to seek help from family, friends, and community institutions and programs supporting victims of abuse. I also refer women who are experiencing IPV to psychiatrists and counselors to receive the psychological help they need to help them overcome this dark phase in their lives and rebuild their future, career, and businesses.
Bruce, M. M., Kassam-Adams, N., Rogers, M., Anderson, K. M., Sluys, K. P., & Richmond, T. S. (2018). Trauma Providers’ Knowledge, Views, and Practice of Trauma-Informed Care. Journal of trauma nursing: the official journal of the Society of Trauma Nurses, 25(2), 131â€“138. https://doi.org/10.1097/JTN.0000000000000356
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Intimate Partner Violence: Violence Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html
Huecker, M., Smock, W. (2020). Domestic Violence. StatPearls Publishing. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499891/