About Intimate Partner Violence

Key points

  • Intimate partner violence is a significant public health issue.
  • Intimate partner violence has a profound impact on lifelong health, opportunity, and well-being.

More Information

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. Intimate partner refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners.

IPV can vary in how often it happens and how severe it is. It can range from one episode of violence to chronic and severe episodes over multiple years.

IPV can include any of the following types of behavior:1

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by using physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one's own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally or to exert control over a partner.

For more information about IPV definitions please see Intimate Partner Violence Surveillance: Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements, Version 2.0. [3.04 MB, 164 Pages, 508].

Quick facts and stats

IPV is common. It affects millions of people in the United States each year. Data from CDC's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) indicate:2

  • About 41% of women and 26% of men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported a related impact.A
  • Over 61 million women and 53 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

IPV starts early and continues throughout people's lives. When IPV occurs in adolescence, it is called teen dating violence. About 16 million women and 11 million men who reported experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime said that they first experienced it before age 18.2

While violence impacts all people, some individuals and communities experience inequities in risk for violence due to the social and structural conditions in which they live, work, and play. Youth from groups that have been marginalized, such as sexual and gender minority youth, are at greater risk of experiencing sexual and physical dating violence.34


Intimate partner violence can result in injuries and even death. Data from U.S. crime reports suggest that about one in five homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. The reports also found that over half of female homicide victims are killed by a current or former male intimate partner.5

Many other negative health outcomes are associated with intimate partner violence. These include conditions affecting the heart, muscles and bones, and digestive, reproductive, and nervous systems, many of which are chronic.5

Survivors can experience mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. They are at higher risk for engaging in behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, and risky sexual activity.6 People from groups that have been marginalized, such as people from racial and ethnic minority groups, are at higher risk for worse consequences.7

Although the personal consequences of intimate partner violence are devastating, there are also many costs to society. The lifetime economic cost associated with medical services for IPV-related injuries, lost productivity from paid work, criminal justice and other costs, is $3.6 trillion. The cost of IPV over a victim’s lifetime was $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men.8


Intimate partner violence can be prevented. Certain factors may increase or decrease the risk of perpetrating or experiencing intimate partner violence.

Preventing intimate partner violence requires understanding and addressing the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence.6

Promoting healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships and communities can help reduce the occurrence of intimate partner violence. It also can prevent the harmful and long-lasting effects of intimate partner violence on individuals, families, and communities.6

  1. Injury, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, concern for safety, fear, needing help from law enforcement, and missing at least one day of work are common impacts reported.
  1. Breiding MJ, Basile KC, Smith SG, Black MC, & Mahendra RR. (2015). Intimate partner violence surveillance: uniform definitions and recommended data elements, Version 2.0. Atlanta (GA): National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Leemis RW, Friar N, Khatiwada S, Chen MS, Kresnow M, Smith SG, Caslin S, & Basile KC. (2022). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2016/2017 Report on Intimate Partner Violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Johns MM, Lowry R, Andrzejewski J, Barrios LC, Demissie Z, McManus T, Rasberry CN, Robin L, Underwood JM. Transgender identity and experiences of violence victimization, substance use, suicide risk, and sexual risk behaviors among high school students—19 states and large urban school districts, 2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2019 Jan 25;68(3):67.
  4. Johns MM, Lowry R, Haderxhanaj LT, Rasberry CN, Robin L, Scales L, Stone D, Suarez NA. Trends in violence victimization and suicide risk by sexual identity among high school students—Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2015–2019. MMWR supplements. 2020 Aug 21;69(1):19.
  5. Jack SP, Petrosky E, Lyons BH, et al. Surveillance for Violent Deaths — National Violent Death Reporting System, 27 States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ 2018;67(No. SS-11):1–32. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6711a1external
  6. Niolon, P. H., Kearns, M., Dills, J., Rambo, K., Irving, S., Armstead, T., & Gilbert, L. (2017). Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Resource for Action: A Compilation of the Best Available Evidence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Note: The title of this document was changed in July 2023 to align with other PreventionResources being developed by CDC's Injury Center. The document was previously cited as "Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs,Policies, and Practices."
  7. Stockman JK, Hayashi H, Campbell JC. Intimate Partner Violence and its Health Impact on Ethnic Minority Women [corrected] [published correction appears in J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015 Mar;24(3):256]. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015;24(1):62-79. doi:10.1089/jwh.2014.4879
  8. Peterson C, Kearns MC, McIntosh WL, Estefan LF, Nicolaidis C, McCollister KE, & Florence C. (2018). Lifetime Economic Burden of Intimate Partner Violence Among U.S. Adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 55(4), 433–444.