A Disturbing Report on Intimate Partner Violence
> 5/18/2006 9:15:15 AM

Yesterday, Reuters reported on a study recently performed in the Seattle area that focused on the incidence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in enrollees of a health care program. Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and performed by the Group Health Center for Health Studies, researchers found that of the 3,400+ women sampled 44% had experienced IPV at some point in their lifetime.

While this number falls into line with previous estimates that have ranged anywhere from 25 to 50% (usually depending on the definition of IPV), what is important about this study is the financial breakdown of those surveyed. It had been thought for some time that partner violence disproportionately effected women of lower economic and education levels. But this most recent study polled women who were already enrolled in the Group Health system, typically a group that skews older with higher incomes and more education.

The implications of this data should hit anyone like a ton of bricks. IPV dramatically effects not only a woman's physical health (in the form of injuries incurred) but also her mental health.

Compared to women with no IPV, women with recent physical IPV were four times as likely to report symptoms of severe depression, nearly three times as likely to report poor or fair health and more than one additional symptom. They also reported lower social functioning by several measures.

Beyond this however, the Group Health study was "the first to find that the more recent a woman’s IPV, and the longer it has gone on, the worse her physical and mental health and social network are likely to be."

"This is an epidemic," said Robert S. Thompson, MD, senior investigator, Group Health Center for Health Studies, lead author of one paper. "But it flies under the radar, because of the stigma and shame associated with it—as well as the fear that many health care providers have of opening what some call a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of difficult problems that they are unsure how to address."

One researcher even goes as far as to point out that their data shows that IPV can have negative health consequences for some women that rival frightening words like cancer. There is one breath of air, and indeed, possibly an inroad to halting what seems like a problem run out of control--"Prevalence was 15 percent in the last five years, and 8 percent in the last year, for any IPV."

Clearly, this is a problem. In the last five years, more than one out of every ten women has experienced IPV. Often times there seems to be an assumption that if you don't SEE the evidence, then it isn't there. But often times, by the time friends or family notice a bruise or cut, much of the damage has already been done. Depression and other mental health disorders frequently spring up in the wake of IPV, and these associated issues have damaging effects all their own. IPV can also become a pattern of behavior for both of partners.

Taken to its frightening and violent conclusion, partner violence can be destructive even beyond physical harm or depression. A Harvard University study found that 43% of all female homicide victims were killed by current or former intimate partners. In the context of a larger debate on the issue, these studies paint a terrible picture. Depression, substance abuse, physical harm--these should never be a part of an intimate relationship. If you or someone you know is being effected by partner violence. Seek help. Now. Only by bringing this type of behavior out into the open can we ever truly hope to break the chain of violence and abuse.


I showed up at the hospital to get myself ( bleeding) and my 3 year old checked out as both of us had been punched repeatedly in the face by my spouse.I was crystal clear about who had done this.No one reported anything, talked to me, or sent a social worker anywhere to me in the hospital or later at home.I might as well have said "I fell".But the absolute apathy of everyone involved in my care made me realize that no one cared, it was all up to me because certainly no one else would help.So maybe ignoring the problem could help too.
URL: http://that33girlie.diaryland.com
Posted by: That Girl 5/23/2006 11:24:31 AM

Hello That Girl,You are right that it is up to you to deal with this problem and I am sorry you are in this situation. It is however unacceptable that the ER did not respond better to your abuse. I strongly encourage you to not ignore the problem and to seek help for the abuse. Being battered creates its own emotional consequences and you need to overcome them and getting the support of others is a critical first step. Even though the ER was unresponsive don't use that as an excuse to not ask for help. There are too many resources for these problems to mention but I am sure you know many of them already. Ask for and acknowledge that you need help it is the first step.Dr Hapworth
Posted by: William E. Hapworth M.D. 5/24/2006 8:55:16 AM

Hmmmmmm, how long have I been blogging about this? I wish Dr. Green would have read this report when he was still my doctor . . . This is frustrating for me as I have experienced IPV first hand and all of the consequences written about in this blog. *sigh* . . . And I was written off and dismissed as a "difficult patient."
URL: http://difficultpt.blogspot.com
Posted by: difficult patient 5/25/2006 2:58:01 AM

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