Intimate Partner Violence: Consequences

IPV is connected to other forms of violence, and causes serious health and economic consequences. Apart from deaths and injuries, physical violence by an intimate partner is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes. Several health conditions associated with IPV may be a direct result of the physical violence. Other conditions are the result of the impact of IPV on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems through chronic stress or other mechanisms.

Cost to Society

  • The costs from IPV are substantial. The lifetime per-victim cost was $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men.
  • The lifetime economic cost to the U.S. population is $3.6 trillion. This economic cost estimate includes almost 32 million women and 12 million men who are victims of IPV during their lives,
  • The $3.6 trillion economic cost estimate included:
    • $2.1 trillion (59%) in medical costs,
    • $1.3 trillion (37%) in lost productivity among victims and perpetrators,
    • $73 billion (2%) in criminal justice costs, and
    • $62 billion (2%) in other costs, such as victim property loss or damage.

Consequences

  • Nearly 1 in 5 adult women and about 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • About 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men have experienced contact sexual violence from an intimate partner (this includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, and unwanted sexual contact)
  • 10% of women and 2% of men report having been stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • About 35% of female IPV survivors and 12% of male IPV survivors experience some form of physical injury related to their experience of relationship violence.
  • About 1 in 6 of homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner
  • Over 40% of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by an intimate partner
  • Children might become injured during IPV incidents between their parents. A large overlap exists between IPV and child abuse and neglect.

Health conditions associated with IPV include:

  • Asthma
  • Bladder and kidney infections
  • Circulatory conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Joint disease
  • Migraines and headaches

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Reproductive

  • Gynecological disorders
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS
  • Delayed prenatal care
  • Preterm delivery
  • Pregnancy difficulties like low birth weight babies and perinatal deaths
  • Unintended pregnancy

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Psychological

Physical violence is typically accompanied by emotional or psychological abuse. IPV–whether sexual, physical, or psychological–can lead to various psychological consequences for victims.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to trust others, especially in intimate relationships
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Emotional detachment
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Flashbacks
  • Replaying assault in the mind

Social

Victims of IPV sometimes face the following social consequences

  • Restricted access to services
  • Strained relationships with health providers and employers
  • Isolation from social networks
  • Homelessness

Health Behaviors

Women with a history of IPV are more likely to display behaviors that present further health risks (e.g., substance abuse, alcoholism, suicide attempts) than women without a history of IPV.

IPV is associated with a variety of negative health behaviors. Studies show that the more severe the violence, the stronger its relationship to negative health behaviors by victims.

  • Engaging in high-risk sexual behavior
    • Unprotected sex
    • Decreased condom use
    • Early sexual initiation
    • Choosing unhealthy sexual partners
    • Multiple sex partners
    • Trading sex for food, money, or other items
  • Using harmful substances
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Drinking alcohol and driving
    • Illicit drug use
  • Unhealthy diet-related behaviors
    • Fasting
    • Vomiting
    • Abusing diet pills
    • Overeating
  • Overuse of health services

 

See Intimate Partner Violence Resources for articles, publications, and data sources about the consequences of intimate partner violence. 

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Page last reviewed: October 23, 2018