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Place Intimate Partner Violence in Context

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Intimate partners include current or former spouses or dating partners of any gender or sexual orientation, people with children in common, or partners that live together or used to live together. The term domestic violence is often used interchangeably with intimate partner violence. The key difference is that domestic violence can also be used to refer to violence between other family members such as between a parent and child or between siblings, which does not include the same dynamic of power and control. This media guide is focused specifically on intimate partner violence.

Intimate partner violence can include, but is not limited to, physical, sexual, psychological, economic, and technological abuse as well as stalking. Intimate partner violence can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, religion, income, or sexual orientation. In fact, about one-third of all women and one-quarter of all men in the United States experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.[1] In this section, we will highlight the importance of placing an incident of intimate partner violence in the context of the larger societal problem of intimate partner violence.

Naming the problem

The first step required of placing an incident of intimate partner violence in context is naming the problem. Ask the police if the case you're reporting on is considered a domestic violence or intimate partner violence case and then use that language in reporting. Using terms like "intimate partner violence," "domestic violence," or "intimate partner abuse" helps further public discourse about the issue merely by identifying it.

Providing context

As mentioned above, intimate partner violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors rather than an isolated incident. Background information can help place incidents of intimate partner violence within a larger context. Context can be provided in two key ways:

  1. If a pattern of abuse has been identified within a relationship, discuss the incident of intimate partner violence in the context of that pattern.

    "Garcia called cops to the residence twice last year, in May and November, with domestic violence complaints against Mejias-Ramos, police said, but he was not arrested either time."
    (New York Post, 1/21/14)

    "'My mom didn't deserve to die like that,' said Shalini Ronaldo Ramjiawan, 30. 'He would say things. He always threatened he would kill mom.'
    (New York Daily News, 12/6/16)

  2. Discuss the incident of intimate partner violence within the context of the larger social problem of intimate partner violence or domestic violence.

    "It's the second homicide on Staten Island this year, and the second domestic-violence related slaying in the past two weeks […] The shooting marks the latest in a spate of domestic violence killings on Staten Island."
    (Staten Island Advance, 3/4/13)

Using up-to-date data and statistics

Including up-to-date data and statistics on intimate partner violence helps provide context around the issue.View our Fact Sheet, which provides the most current statistics on rates of intimate partner violence in New York City. This section of our website also contains additional research reports and publications.