A Look at the Issue

Domestic violence is a public health issue, affecting our communities across the state in unique, complex, and troubling ways. Service providers work every day to address the damaging effects of intimate partner violence (IPV), otherwise known as domestic violence, across our state.

What is sexual violence?

The term “sexual violence” is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. 

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How does sexual violence affect our communities?

Among Utah adults, those who have experienced sexual violence have significantly higher rates of negative health outcomes compared to those who have not experienced sexual violence.

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What influences someone’s experience with domestic violence?

A variety of other factors can impact how a victim experiences abuse, and how they access to services once they leave their abuser, from technology to housing, and more.

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What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is a powerful way that an abusive person gets and keeps their partner under control, as it instills an environment of constant fear.  While physical abuse is the form of abuse that is most commonly known, it may or may not be a part of an abusive relationship.  If physical abuse is present early in the relationship, it commonly gets worse over time.  If there is no physical abuse in the relationship, it may begin to occur when the victim is pregnant or when the victim is considering leaving the relationship. Physical violence may include hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, strangling, smothering, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving, interrupting your sleep, throwing things, destroying property, hurting or killing pets, and denying medical treatment.

Abusive relationships can move through a cycle of violence that includes periods of tension and calm. This can make it difficult to leave a physically abusive relationship.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be categorized in a variety of ways, including:
– A complete sexual act, or sexual intercourse.
– An incomplete sexual act, where sex is attempted but is unsuccessful.
– Abusive sexual contact, which involves touching or hurting sexual or other private areas.
– Sexual abuse without contact.

Sexual abuse can also take the form of an abuser forbidding their partner from using birth control, often with the intent to conceive, another form of power and control. Or, an abuser may force or pressure a survivor to end a pregnancy. These tactics are sometimes referred to as reproductive abuse or reproductive coercion. Other tactics of sexual abusers can include preventing their partner from protecting themselves against STDs, refusing to use condoms, coercing their partner to perform sex acts in front of children, taking advantage of their partner sexually when their partner is on drugs, inebriated, sleeping, or unconscious.

Emotional & Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or “chronic verbal aggression” by researchers. People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn), and may even become depressed, anxious, or suicidal.

Emotional abuse, like other types of abuse, tends to take the form of a cycle. In a relationship, this cycle starts when one partner emotionally abuses the other, typically to show dominance. The abuser then feels guilt, but not about what they have done, but moreover the consequences of his actions. The abuser then makes up excuses for his own behavior to avoid taking responsibility for what has happened. The abuser then resumes “normal” behavior as if the abuse never happened and may, in fact, be extra charming, apologetic, and giving – making the abused party believe that the abuser is sorry.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse involves controlling a victim’s ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resources. Those who are victimized financially may be prevented from working. They also may have their own money restricted or stolen by the abuser. And rarely do they have complete access to money and other resources. When they do have money, they often have to account for every penny they spend.

While less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped in an abusive relationship. Research shows that victims often are too concerned about their ability to provide financially for themselves and their children to end the relationship. Plus, financial insecurity is one of the top reasons women return to an abusive partner.

How does domestic violence affect our communities?

We know that domestic violence affects our communities across the state in disparate and troubling ways. We’re working to close service gaps, break down barriers to access, and driving conversation. An individual’s gender, sexual orientation, race, ability, and more can uniquely impact how they experience intimate partner violence and accessing services.

Male Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

– 1 in 4 men have been physically abused (slapped, pushed, shoved) by an intimate partner.
– 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused (hit with a fist or hard object, kicked, slammed against something, choked, burned, etc.) by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
– Nearly 1 in 10 men in the United States has experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported at least one measured impact related to experiencing these or other forms of violent behavior in the relationship (e.g., being fearful, concerned for safety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, need for healthcare, injury, contacting a crisis hotline, need for housing services, need for victim’s advocate services, need for legal services, missed at least one day of work or school).

Indigenous Communities & Intimate Partner Violence

Restoring Ancestral Winds is a tremendous resource to our community as they tirelessly work to advocate for our indigenous communities through culturally competent and informed approaches to service delivery, advocacy, community building, and more. Learn more about the resource partner below.

LGBTQIA+ Communities & Intimate Partner Violence

Sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sexual harassment can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Women of all sexual identities bear the disproportionate burden of gender-based violence, but we also must recognize the diverse experiences of survivors who represent any and all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations. LGBTQ+, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and non-binary communities often represent a direct contradiction to expected and assigned gender roles in society, and as a result, are at heightened risk of gender-based violence. Some sexual assault and harassment may be directed at individuals as a hate crime specifically because of their identities; other times, abusers may use the victim’s identity, the status of being “out,” or traditional gender norms as a way to maintain power and control.

Disability & Intimate Partner Violence

Gender-based violence impacts the lives of countless women and their families across the United States. Women and girls of all ages, income levels, racial and ethnic communities, sexual orientations, and abilities experience violence in the form of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, trafficking, and stalking. Women and girls with disabilities are more at risk for violence, experience violence more often and more severely, and have more barriers to getting support.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, provides protections from discrimination for individuals with disabilities. Under Titles II and III of the ADA, domestic violence shelters must be accessible. To be accessible, shelters and offices are required to: admit people with disabilities into their shelter, provide reasonable accommodations, and eliminate structural barriers to access.

What influences someone’s experience with domestic violence?

Domestic violence is interconnected to a variety of issues, many of which complicate how a survivor accesses services, the consequences of abuse, and long-term stability and health. In certain cases, these realities may prevent a survivor from accessing services altogether, in part due to fear or misunderstanding of the resources available.

Health & Intimate Partner Violence

Sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV) bear long-term implications for women’s mental, emotional, physical, and reproductive health. The health impacts of gender-based violence may be acute or chronic, and those impacts may be seen and felt long after the violence has stopped. The effects of violence are often compounded by poverty, racism, and restricted access to comprehensive health services, which make seeking help and healing much harder for some survivors.

Immigration & Intimate Partner Violence

Like women across race, nationality, and other marginalized identities, immigrant women are at high risk of experiencing gender-based violence. In addition to the risk of violence, immigrant women experience increased barriers to fleeing abuse due to a complex set of factors. Among those are language barriers, fear, or confusion about U.S. legal systems, financial abuse, and social isolation.

Technology & Intimate Partner Violence

In a recent survey of victim services providers, 97% indicated that victims who seek their services were being harassed, monitored, or threatened by perpetrators misusing technology. Understanding the impact of abusers’ misuse of technology, the types of technology misused, and the ways in which technology can be used to assist survivors is therefore crucial to providing survivor support.
While harassment, threats, and intimidation are not new tactics in the world of stalking, domestic, and sexual violence, abusers are increasingly using technology to monitor, harass, threaten, intimidate, impersonate, and stalk their victims, making it difficult for survivors to find physical safety and eroding their sense of safety. In addition, it is not uncommon for abusers to misuse multiple technologies at once, while also using non-technological abusive tactics.

Housing & Intimate Partner Violence

Housing domestic violence and sexual assault survivors is central to helping survivors rebuild their lives. The connection between violence and homelessness for women is staggering. Abusers often use isolation and economic abuse to control their victims, making it difficult to find safety. Shelters across the state of Utah seek to provide housing and safety for victims of domestic violence in their communities.

You made it to the end

Looking to learn more about what you can do? See how we’re working to bring prevention tools to our communities.