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Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)/Domestic Violence (DV)
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) or Domestic Violence (DV) is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual to exert power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate or family relationship. Specifically, “intimate partner violence” describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. 

While intimate partner violence and domestic violence may appear to be the same thing, they certainly have much overlap. Domestic Violence is violence that takes place within a household and can be between any two people within that household. Domestic Violence (DV) can occur between a parent and child, siblings, or even roommates. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) can only occur between romantic partners who may or may not be living together in the same household.

Intimate Partner Violence

Copyright by Center for Disease Control

Power and Control Wheel

Power and Control Wheel

The Haven frequently references the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, MN to describe the abuse that occurs in these type of relationships. In the diagram below, the Power and Control Wheel assumes that women are the victims, men are the perpetrators, and that DV/IPV occurs only with heterosexual couples. While many victims are women and many perpetrators are men, these roles can be reversed and can happen to people of any gender or sexuality. The wheel serves as a diagram of tactics that an abusive partner uses to keep their victims in a relationship. 


Copyright by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

Red Flags

Red Flags of Intimate Partner Violence

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:


  • Extreme jealousy

  • Possessiveness

  • Unpredictability

  • A bad temper

  • Cruelty to animals

  • Verbal abuse

  • Extremely controlling behavior

  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships

  • Forced sex or disregard of their partner's unwillingness to have sex

  • Sabotage of birth control methods or refusal to honor agreed upon methods

  • Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens

  • Sabotage or obstruction of the victim's ability to work or attend school

  • Controls all the finances

  • Abuse of other family members, children or pets

  • Accusations of the victim flirting with others or having an affair

  • Control of what the victim wears and how they act

  • Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly

  • Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others

  • Harassment of the victim at work

*From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

To learn more about common abusive behaviors and intimate partner violence, please click here.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline created a spectrum that can help you understand where your relationship stands. For more information, please click here.


Copyright of National Domestic Violence Hotline

Why Do People Abuse?

DV/IPV occurs due to a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Perpetrators believe they have the right to control and restrict their partner’s lives, often either because they believe their own feelings and needs should be the priority in the relationship, or because they enjoy exerting the power that such abuse gives them.

Abuse is a learned behavior; while many people witness domestic violence as children; others learn it slowly from friends, popular culture, or other social structures throughout our society. Ultimately, individuals who commit abusive acts make a choice in doing so. There are many people who experience or witness abuse who use their experiences to end the cycle of violence and heal themselves without harming others. While outside factors (including drug or alcohol addiction) can escalate abuse, it’s important to recognize that these issues do not cause abuse themselves.

Why Do People Abuse?
Why Do People Stay?

Why Do People Stay?

On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away from their perpetrator for good. There are many factors involved in an individual's decision to stay in an abusive relationship including:

  • Fear of the unknown

  • Physical violence from the perpetrator

  • Normalization of the abuse

  • Financial dependence

  • Threats to spread secrets or other confidential information (i.e. revenge porn)

    • For LGBTQ+ people who haven’t come out yet, threats to out someone may be an opportunity for abusive partners to exert control.

    • For undocumented people, threats to report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • Low self-esteem

  • Depending on other people for physical support

  • Desire to keep the family together

  • Hope that the abuse will stop

  • Pressure from extended family members

  • Denial

  • Love for the person committing the violence

  • Shame

  • Lack of resources

  • To learn more about what impacts a victims decision, click here

When a victim leaves their abusive relationship, they threaten the established power dynamic which may cause the partner to retaliate in harmful ways. Therefore, leaving can put their life and their families' lives in danger. 

Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence

Similar to domestic/intimate partner violence, stalking focuses on power and control. It often co-occurs and increases the risks of domestic/intimate partner violence. Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear. Stalking behavior can take many forms including:

  • Making threats against someone, or that person's family or friends

  • Non-consensual communication, such as repeated phone calls, emails, text messages, and unwanted gifts

  • Repeated physical or visual closeness, like waiting for an someone to arrive at certain locations, following someone, or watching someone from a distance

  • Any other behavior used to contact, harass, track, or threaten someone

  • Vandalism or other destruction of property

  • Threat to the victim and/or her/his family, friends and pets;


A vast majority of stalkers know their victim. More than half of stalkers are current or former intimate partners.  Many perpetrators stalk their partners both during the relationship and after the relationship has ended as an extension of coercive control. The average duration of intimate partner stalking is 2 years.



















Stalking can be a predictor of lethality. Many intimate partner stalkers physically approach their victims, use weapons, escalate behaviors, and are much more likely to follow through on threats and re-offend. On average, intimate partner stalkers are the most threatening and dangerous type of stalker, and stalking increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by three times. 85% of stalking precedes intimate partner homicide. In 85% of completed and 75% of attempted femicides, there was at least one episode of stalking the year prior to the incident.












Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous and no situations are the same. There are no that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety. Here are some tips from FRIS (West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services):


  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

  • Trust your instincts. Don't downplay the danger.

  • Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.

  • Contact The Haven at 1-800-22HAVEN(42836). An advocate can help you create a safety plan, provide information about related laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.

  • If you are being stalked through communication technology, like email or text messaging, make it clear that you wish to stop contact. Once you’ve made it clear, do not respond to further communication.

  • Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. You can keep a journal or notebook to document stalking instances. You can also click here to download a stalking incident and behavior log provided by SPARC. Click here for the log in Spanish.

  • Contact the police. Laws on stalking and harassment can vary from state to state. Stalking is illegal in the state of Virginia. Request that the police log every complaint you make, whether they respond to the scene or not, and request a copy of the report. The stalker may also have broken other laws by actions such as assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.

  • Consider seeking a protective order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.

  • Explicitly instruct businesses, agencies, schools, workplaces, family, friends, and others not to give out your personal information. 

  • Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.

  • Tell security staff at your job, school, housing community, etc. Ask them to watch out for your safety.


Copyright by SPARC (Stalking, Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center

Copyright by SPARC (Stalking, Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center)



As technology has evolved so have the ways perpetrators exercise power and control over their victims. Cyberstalking is the method of using technology to stalk individuals. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) describes cyberstalking behaviors can look like:

  • Persistently sending unwanted communication through the internet, such as spamming someone’s email inbox or social media platform

  • Posting threatening or personal information about someone on public internet forums

  • Video-voyeurism, or installing video cameras that give the stalker access to someone’s personal life

  • Using GPS or other software tracking systems to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent

  • Using someone’s computer and/or spyware to track their computer activity

Additional ways that perpetrators can abuse their victims is through live chats by abusing the victim directly or through electronic sabotage (for example, flooding the Internet chat channel to disrupt the victim’s conversation). Perpetrators can create postings about the victim or start rumors that spread through social media platforms. Perpetrators can also set up a web page or a fake social media profile on the victim with personal or fictitious information. Thus, discrediting the victim’s reputation and potentially leading to unwanted contacts from others. Much like other forms of domestic/intimate partner violence, cyberstalking takes place over a period of time and involves repeated, deliberate attempts to cause distress to the victim.

If you are being harassed on-line, Marshall University offers several things you should do:

1. Trust your instincts.

If you suspect that someone knows too much about you and/or your activities, it is possible that you are being monitored.

2. Plan for Safety.

Advocates at your local rape crisis center or domestic violence shelter are available to help you develop a safety plan. You can also use national hotlines such as 1-800-656-HOPE, the National Sexual Assault Hotline or a website such as or
3. Be extra cautious if your abuser is very technologically savvy.

Again trust your instincts. You may want to talk to an advocate or to the police.

4. Use a safer computer.

If you suspect that your computer is compromised, use a computer at the public library, church, or a community center.

5. Create a new email account(s).

Look for free web-based email accounts. Use an anonymous name and don’t provide much information in the profiles that an abuser could use to find you.

6. Check your cell phone settings.
Consider turning it off when not in use. If your phone has GPS enabled, consider turning it off. Apps like Snapchat and others track your location, consider disabling GPS or utilizing "Ghost Mode".

7. Change passwords and pin numbers.
Use gender neutral passwords. Try to avoid using birth dates, numbers or phrases that your abuser may recognize. Don’t give your passwords to anyone and keep them in a safe, not easily accessed place.

8. Minimize the use of cordless phones and baby monitors.
Turn these devices off if you do not want your conversation overheard. Use a corded telephone whenever you want your conversation to be more private.

9. Use a donated or new cell phone.
If the local rape crisis center or shelter provides cell phones or if you can obtain a new phone, do so. Consider the use of a prepaid phone or phone cards as well.

10. Ask about your records and date.
Many court systems and government agencies are publishing records to the Internet. Ask agencies about their policies regarding publishing and protection of victim records. Find out if there are ways that your records can be sealed or if access can be restricted in some way to protect your safety.

11. Get a private mailbox and don’t give out your real address.  

This will give you a safer address to give out to doctors, businesses, etc. Try to keep your actual address out of national databases.

12. Search for your name on the Internet.

This can help you determine what information is online and whether search engines have access to your contact information.


Become familiar with computer safety and ways to stay safe online. Here are some additional ways you can better protect yourself online:

  • Use a gender-neutral screen name.

  • Never give your password to anyone, especially if someone sends you an instant message (IM).

  • Don’t provide your credit card number or other identifying information as proof of age to access or subscribe to a web site run by a company with which you are unfamiliar.

  • Tell children not give out their real name, address, or phone number over the Internet without permission.

  • Don’t give your primary e-mail address out to anyone you don’t know.

  • Spend time on newsgroups, mailing lists, and chat rooms as a “silent” observer before speaking or posting messages.

  • When you do participate on-line, only type what you would say to someone in person.

  • Don’t respond to an e-mail from a stranger; when you reply, you are verifying your e-mail address to the sender.

  • On a regular basis (at least once a month), type your name into Internet search engines to see what information, if any, pops up. To have your name removed from any directories, contact each search engine on which you are listed and request to be removed.


If you're in an abusive relationship, call us at


No person deserves to be abused.

Everyone deserves healthy relationships.

“The ‘ALL Are Welcome Here’ image was created by the Pennsylvania Cross-Systems Advocacy Coalition, supported by Grant No. 2007-FW-AX-K009, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations included in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women."  Visit the NRCDV Access Initiative page for more information.

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