Intimate Partner Violence
Abuse in relationships, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), is far more common than most people think. If abuse is defined as sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking, then statistics from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men in the U.S. have been victims of IPV.
However, abuse is more than just physical; it’s psychological. IPV also includes non-physical violence such as threats, manipulation, verbal abuse, or other forms of communication that cause mental or emotional harm to a partner. In the U.S. alone, 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological violence in abusive relationships.
Unfortunately, abusive relationships are closely linked with homelessness. According to best estimates, more than 80% of homeless women with children are fleeing an abusive relationship, and abuse is the direct cause of homelessness for somewhere between 22 and 57% of women.
On top of this, 38% of IPV victims experience homelessness at some point in their lives.
Why do people stay in abusive relationships?
People stay in abusive relationships for a variety of reasons. Many abusers maintain control by threatening to harm the victim, the victim’s loved ones, or the victim’s pets if the victim tries to leave.
Others remain in situations of domestic violence due to economic or emotional dependency. Although a victim’s current situation may be dangerous, fear of the unknown or inability to provide for oneself may keep them from making a change.
On top of this, many victims of abuse hold on to hope that things will improve. Maybe a relationship was once healthy in the past, or the abuser promises they will start acting differently in the future. A victim may ignore or excuse behaviors because they genuinely care about or love their abuser.
How to talk to someone in an abusive relationship
If you know someone in an abusive relationship, it can be tempting to step in and save the day, telling the victim exactly what they need to do to escape their predicament. However, according to experts, this method is unlikely to produce the intended effect. For victims who are already being manipulated by abusers, your well-intentioned but strong advice can simply feel like another person is trying to control them.
Here are some tips on how to talk to someone in an abusive relationship:
- Don’t use judgment or strong statements, which may only increase a victim’s shame.
- Listen, empathize, and make gentle suggestions. Let them know you believe what they’re saying.
- Be aware that many abusers read their partner’s text messages and emails; make sure you are in private when you talk to a victim about abuse.
- Speak encouragement about who you know the victim to be. For example, “You are strong. You deserve to be loved. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
- Don’t tear down the abuser, who the victim may still love. Don’t say, “I warned you!”
- Don’t let your own emotions and fear get in the way; stay calm and non-reactive.
- Stay in touch, and let the victim know you support them. Even reaching out with a casual text message will let the victim know there are people who care about them!
- If you witness physical violence, call the police.
Resources for victims of abuse
On top of this, and if appropriate, you can share resources with abuse victims. Here are a handful of options:
- SAFE House
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Love Is Respect
- National Runaway Safeline
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
How Alliance Foundations helps
The Alliance Foundation believes that if people have access to food, shelter, and emotional support, they will have a strong foundation for which they can be prosperous in life. We partner with Las Vegas shelters to provide housing, food, stipends, emotional support, and related resources to the surrounding homeless population.
Many of these people are victims of abusive relationships. Sadly, some will end up back with their abuser since they have nowhere else to go.
How You Can Help
Additionally, you can make a difference in raising awareness and combating intimate partner violence! If you know someone experiencing relationship abuse or domestic violence, use the methods listed above to support, encourage, and gently guide them!