WHAT IS INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE?
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is any act of physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner. Sometimes these acts of violence result in visible bruises or even injuries that necessitate emergent medical assistance. Often, IPV follows a chronic and escalating course. Acts of violence may increase in severity over time and have the potential to become deadly.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE?
Intimate partner violence is unfortunately very common. The global prevalence rate of intimate partner violence is 30% among all ever-partnered women.1 Some regions report even higher rates of IPV. People of all ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and relationship types are at risk for IPV.1 However, women experience IPV more frequently and tend to sustain injuries that are more severe than their male counterparts.
HOW IS EYE HEALTH AFFECTED BY INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE?
Nearly half of all IPV-related injuries involve the eyes.2 The bones of the eye socket often bear the brunt of force in facial trauma. As a result, these bones can break and may require surgery in order to be repaired. IPV can also cause severe injury to the eye itself. Symptoms of eye injury may include pain, vision loss, and altered appearance of the eye. These injuries require immediate attention from a healthcare provider. Your doctor will examine your eyes and take appropriate steps to determine whether surgery is necessary and prevent infection. Despite optimal medical and surgical intervention, IPV-related injuries can lead to chronic facial pain, restricted eye movement, and in some cases, permanent blindness.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AND ELIMINATE IT AS A CAUSE OF BLINDNESS AND DEATH?
In order to eliminate violence as a cause of blindness and death we have to break the cycle of violence. Taking action can be scary, but it may ultimately be what saves your life. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) is a confidential service available to survivors, victims, and those affected by intimate partner violence 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year. There are many online resources such as www.thehotline.org, www.ncadv.org, www.domesticshelters.org, that provide more information on available services. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
The first step in preventing violence is identifying abuse. Violence is NOT your fault. Recognizing patterns of aggressive behaviors that lead to violent episodes can be helpful in developing a safety plan.3,4 Your “in case of emergency” plan should include the following:
- Determine a safe place to relocate to in case of emergency. If possible, store copies of important documents, emergency cash, extra medication, and clothing at the planned safe place.
- Make a habit of backing your car into the driveway of your home so it is possible to quickly escape when a dangerous situation arises.
- If arguing or aggressive behaviors begin, move to a location in your home that has an exit to outside.
- Talk to a trusted neighbor or family member about the violence and ask them to call the police for help if they recognize signs of disturbance or a violent episode occurring.
Talk to your healthcare provider for more information on resources in your community and remember that you are not alone.
- Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and nonpartner sexual violence. World Health Organization; 2013.
- Berrios DC, Grady D. Domestic violence. Risk factors and outcomes. West J Med 1991; 155:133–135.
- Safety Planning. Domestic Violence Resource Center. https://www.dvrc-or.org/safety-planning/
- Safety Planning While Living with an Abusive Partner. National Domestic Violence Hotline. https://www.thehotline.org/resources/safety-planning-while-living-with-an-abusive-partner/