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Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) occurs when one partner, in a relationship, asserts power or control over their partner through physical, sexual, psychological abuse or economic coercion. 

5.4 per 1,000 women experience IPV

0.5 per 1,000 men experience IPV

7% of women & 4% of men experience IPV by age 18

47% of men and women will be victims of psychological aggression

32% of women will be victims of physical violence

7% of men will be victims of contact sexual violence by an intimate partner

IPV not only affects adults, but also youth and teenagers who are dating for the first time. Ten percent (10%) of high schoolers experience physical violence by a boyfriend or girlfriend. In addition, 7% experience forced sexual intercourse and 11% experience sexual dating violence.

As a result of IPV, youth and adults are more likely to experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); 20% of women and 5% of men who have experienced IPV report experiencing 1 or more symptoms of PTSD. If you think you may be experiencing from symptoms of PTSD due to intimate partner violence, please seek professional assistance immediately by calling the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1 (800) 799 SAFE or go online at anytime to chat with someone who can help you.


1. Environmental Triggers: People with PTSD are often triggered by things around them, without realizing it. For example, a scent you come across while walking down the street could trigger you to remember a time you were with your partner or ex-partner when they physically abused you. You may then feel as though you are in that moment once again, causing panic and anxiety or anger.

2. Anger: When a person with PTSD is triggered and relives a negative moment from their past, they may react with unprovoked anger towards friends, family members or other loved ones.

3. Avoidance: After a traumatizing experience, an individual may avoid anything, including people and places, that reminds them of it. Having a support system is essential for a person to get through this tough time.

4. Risky Coping Mechanisms: A person experiencing symptoms of PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol in order to temporarily find relief. However, it is important to note that these are not healthy ways of dealing with distress. If you feel like you need to find a way out, please turn to a trusted loved one or friend or seek professional assistance.

5. Negative Feelings: Those who experience a traumatic event may feel shame and guilt for their situation. In addition, they may feel as though they don't deserve positivity in their lives or they may feel unsafe or unable to trust others.

6. Hyper-awareness: A person who is experiencing symptoms of PTSD may still have moments when they fear they are still in danger or harm's way. Their fight vs. flight response increases and they may feel like they need to constantly be aware and protect themselves.

7. Sleep Problems: Those who have PTSD are more likely to experience anxiety which can translate to nightmares while sleeping, a racing mind before bed, difficulty falling asleep, or even problems staying asleep. Insomnia, or the ability to fall or stay asleep, is extremely common among those who have PTSD.

Signs of IPV:

Your partner purposefully
humiliates, insults,
and/or criticizes you.
Your partner intimidates,
threatens or causes fear
in your life.
Unwanted touching, sexual harassment, sexual assault,
or rape.
Your partner tries to control your reproductive choices
(i.e. your partner doesn't want
you to use birth control).
Your partner attempts to control
your money, education, or job.


What does emotional manipulation look like?

Emotional manipulation may present itself in many forms. Maybe you can recognize the manipulator as the bully or the victim. While the bully makes the target feel fearful and might use aggression, the victim induces a feeling of guilt in their target.

Trauma bonding is a specific kind of abuse or emotional manipulation. Trauma bonding involves cycles of abusive behavior coupled with expressions of love. The victim may mistake the abuse for "love," and eventually learn to associate love with abuse. Consequently, the victim might start to justify or minimize the abuse and its effects. 

It is important to note that these experiences, and their resulting traumas, may be exacerbated due to staying at home during COVID-19.

What does emotional manipulation feel like?
  • You feel fear, obligation, and/or guilt.

  • You're questioning yourself, or you're being "gaslighted" -- someone is insisting on a reality that looks much different than your own.

  • There are always strings attached -- with every good deed, there is a dangerous or unhealthy expectation.

  • You notice the "foot-in-the-door" and "door-in-the-face" techniques -- small and reasonable requests may turn into larger ones, or the other way around, making smaller requests seem comparatively reasonable.

What can I do?

It's important to remember that in times of crisis, your brain will not function in the same way it does when you are calm. That's why it's important to develop a safety plan.


Some items on your safety plan might include:

  • Have a list of local domestic violence shelters in your area and find out if they are accepting walk-ins.​

  • Develop a code word with friends or family if you are in danger and need to get out quickly.

  • Find the safest place in your house where you can escape if an argument or violence breaks out.

  • Remind yourself of your great value.

Here's a video to help you recognize signs of domestic violence, plan for safety, or support a friend who is a victim of domestic violence and/or manipulation.

Please remember :

  1. You are not alone!
  2. Home is not a safe place for everyone.
  3. This is not your fault, and you should not feel ashamed to seek help.
  4. Do not delay seeking crucial care due to COVID-19 contamination fears.

Teen Dating Violence Resources

National & Local Hotlines

California Youth Crisis Line: (888) 988 - TEEN

YWCA Rape Hotline: (408) 287 - 3000

National Teen Dating Abuse Line: (866) 331- 9474

YouthLine: (877) 968 - 8491; available from 4 to 10 PM

or text teen2teen to 839863

Bill Wilson Youth Stress Line: (888) 247-7717

Legal Aid

Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County

(408) 998-5200

Asian Law Alliance

(408) 287-9710

Local Services & Assistance

Support Network for Battered Women

(408) 501-7550

Next Door Solutions

(408) 279-2962

Discover Alternatives

(408) 683-4118

Asian Women's Home

(408) 975-2739

Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE)

(510) 794-6055

Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto

(650) 326-6440

Cupertino/Sunnyvale Bar Association

(408) 736-2520

Palo Alto Bar Association

(650) 326-8322

Legal Advocates for Children & Youth (LACY) - for youth under 18

(650) 293-4790

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