The Relationship Between Intimate Partner Violence and Other Forms of Family and Societal Violence


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant individual and public health problem. In many cases the emergency department (ED) or emergency medical services provide these patients’ first-line medical assessment. In the past IPV was usually treated by law enforcement as a private matter for a couple. It is now clearly recognized that IPV has significant medical ramifications and that the problem extends to the health and safety of the general public.


Others involved in this private matter potentially include any current or former partners of each member of the couple; children of the current or prior relationships; and other family members, friends, or coworkers assisting either the perpetrator or victim of abuse. A variety of relationships, either heterosexual or homosexual, can occur, affecting not only the type of incident, but type of response involved. The general public is also at risk because incidents occur not only at the victim’s residence, but also in the workplace, and on other public or private property (eg, in a parking lot, a commercial establishment, or government building). Because abuse victims often seek medical attention only in the case of significant injury or other acute condition, it is vital that emergency physicians be aware not only of the medical
issues involved, but also the greater public health and sociolegal ramifications of IPV.
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