By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate
October is National Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Awareness Month (also known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month). Since 1987, this observance has focused on remembering those who have lost their lives to IPV, as well as celebrating the survivors who have been able to exit violent relationships.
IPV is any physical abuse, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm caused by a current or former partner or spouse. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IPV became the “pandemic within a pandemic.” That’s because many victims faced the added pressures of increased economic insecurity, increased time in isolation with their abusers, and limited contact with their support networks. In Texas, domestic violence related-homicides increased by 23 percent, according to a study released earlier this year from the Texas Council on Family Violence.
Last year, 228 people were killed by an intimate partner in the state of Texas. Thirty-seven of those murders occurred in Harris County, which was the most of any single county in the state. Everyone can play a role in helping friends, family, co-workers or neighbors abused by intimate partners. Some common signs that someone is experiencing IPV include:
- Seem to be emotional distressed, depressed, feeling self-doubt or shame
- Appear to be isolated, unusually quiet, or anxious around family or friends
- Have unexplained bruises or injuries
- Act differently or strangely in social situations, like work or school
- Wear unseasonable clothing, like long sleeves in the summer
- Give explanations that don’t add up
- Are often tardy or miss work or school, or frequently cancel plans
- Receive disruptive and excessive phone calls, texts, emails, or frequent visits from a partner
- Act fearful around their partner
Healthcare providers can play a crucial role since they often are the first to offer care to those suffering from IPV. At Legacy Community Health, health providers can screen for IPV by utilizing the HITS questionnaire. The four-item questionnaire ask respondents how often their partner have physically Hurt, Insulted, Threatened with harm, and Screamed at them. These four items make up the acronym HITS. This tool can support the patient’s medical needs to improve health outcomes. Additionally, patients can be connected with a Legacy social worker to identify resources and develop a safety plan specific to the patient’s unique circumstances.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing intimate partner violence please contact any of the resources below for assistance:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) http://www.thehotline.org/
- Houston Area Women’s Center: (713) 528-2121 / 1-800-256-0551 http://hawc.org/