VHA Social Work
Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) - VETERANS & PARTNERS - What Is IPV?
How Common is Violence in Intimate Relationships?
While in the general population, one in three women and one in four men will experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lives, Veterans may be disproportionally impacted by IPV.1*
IPV affects people, including Veterans, of all races, ethnicities, incomes, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, cultures, religions, and abilities.
Are Veterans at Greater Risk for IPV?
As a group, Veterans are more likely to have had traumatic and stressful experiences that may increase their risk of experiencing and/or using aggression in their close relationships.
The stress of deployments and separation from their families places stress on the individual and the family unit. Combat trauma as well as military sexual trauma (MST), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance misuse can all contribute to an increased risk for experiencing relationship conflict and IPV.2*
Use of aggression in intimate relationships has been found to be more common among Veterans who have PTSD.3*, 4* Depression, substance misuse, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) may also be risk factors for using aggression in an intimate relationship.5*
Is IPV Common?
While all couples have disagreements, use of name-calling, put downs, physical aggression, threats, forcing someone to engage in sexual activities, and/or controlling behaviors are not normal or healthy.
People who have used aggression in their relationship or have grown up in homes where abuse is used often assume that this behavior is normal. However, the majority of couples do not use or experience intimate partner violence.6* It is important to know the warning signs when the conflict is becoming problematic.
Veterans with LGBT and related identities:
People with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and related identities experience IPV at similar or higher rates than the general population.7*, 8* Among Veterans, Women Veterans who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or questioning are two to three times more likely to report experiencing IPV than heterosexual women Veterans.9*
In addition to forms of abuse that can affect anyone, people with LGBT and related identities who are experiencing intimate partner violence may face LGBT-specific concerns such as their partner threatening to “out” them or fear of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in seeking help. The VA serves all who served. Learn about VA services for Veterans with LGBT and related identities: https://www.patientcare.va.gov/LGBT/
Older adults also experience IPV. In some cases, the IPV has been prevalent on and off throughout the individual’s life or relationships. At other times, IPV can begin in later years as roles change, stressors become more debilitating with physical and cognitive decline and, in the case of Veterans, old traumas can re-emerge causing stressors in the relationship. Elder abuse, which includes abuse by intimate partners affects at least 10% of the U.S. population.10*
For additional information on VA supports Aging Veterans visit: https://www.va.gov/geriatrics/
Some people experience only one form of intimate partner violence while others may experience many. Often IPV begins as infrequent mild emotional, verbal or coercive behavior, but it can escalate to become more frequent and severe. Intimate partner violence can be a single event or can occur on and off for many years.
You do not have to be sure you are experiencing or using intimate partner violence to receive help from the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program.
1. Gierisch J. M., Shapiro, A., Grant N. N., King, H. A., McDuffie, J. R., & Williams, J. W. (2013). Intimate Partner Violence: Prevalence Among U.S. Military Veterans and Active Duty Service Members and a Review of Intervention Approaches. VA-ESP Project #09-010. https://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/publications/esp/partner_violence-REPORT.pdf*
2. Gerber, M. R., Iverson, K. M., Dichter, M. E., Klap, R., & Latta, R. E. (2014). Women veterans and intimate partner violence: Current state of knowledge and future directions. Journal Of Women's Health, 23(4), 302-310. http://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2013.4513*
3. Taft, C. T., Watkins, L. E., Stafford, J., Street, A. E., & Monson, C. M. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder and intimate relationship problems: A meta-analysis. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 79(1), 22-33. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022196*
4. Marshall, A. D., Panuzio, J., & Taft, C. T. (2005). Intimate partner violence among military veterans and active duty servicemen. Clinical Psychology Review, 25(7), 862-876. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2005.05.009*
5. Williston, S. K., Taft, C. T., & VanHaasteren, K. O. (2015). Military veteran perpetrators of intimate partner violence: Challenges and barriers to coordinated intervention. Aggression And Violent Behavior, 2155-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2015.01.008*
6. Neighbors, C., Walker, D. D., Mbilinyi, L. F., O'Rourke, A., Edleson, J. L., Zegree, J., & Roffman, R. A. (2010). Normative misperceptions of abuse among perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 16(4), 370-386. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801210363608*
7. Messinger, A. M. (2011). Invisible victims: Same-sex IPV in the National Violence Against Women Survey. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 26(11), 2228-2243. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260510383023*
8. Brown, T. N. & Herman, J. L. (2015, November). Intimate partner violence and sexual abuse among LGBT people: A review of existing research.
9. Dardis, C. M., Shipherd, J. C., & Iverson, K. M. (2017). Intimate partner violence among women veterans by sexual orientation. Women & Health, 57(7), 775-791. https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2016.1202884*
10. Acierno, R., Hernandez, M. A., Amstadter, A. B., Resnick, H. S., Steve, K., Muzzy, W., & Kilpatrick, D. G. (2010). Prevalence and Correlates of Emotional, Physical, Sexual, and Financial Abuse and Potential Neglect in the United States: The National Elder Mistreatment Study. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 292–297. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.163089*