At Catholic Charities, our passionate and professional staff is one of our greatest resources. In today’s post, Christine Park, LCSW and a counselor in our Family Services program since 2010, explains the gravity of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), it’s consequences for women in poverty, and how Catholic Charities is available to help. Park’s full article was recently published online in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is violence committed by someone with whom one has had or has an intimate relationship. Often, the abuser maintains power and control with physical and psychological abuse, sexual aggression, social isolation, and/or threats.
Unfortunately, IPV is a universal problem that cuts across social class, religion and culture.
Yet, IPV is not equal among gender — according to the U.S. Department of Justice about 80% of victims are female. IPV will affect more than one quarter of women and an estimated five million women each year.
Likewise, IPV is more likely to occur among women in poverty. IPV often debilitates women. It limits their access to financial, material and familial resources; it may force them to flee their home and job. Specific effects include…
- Physical injuries and health problems: Physical health effects can endure long after abuse has ended and include chronic pain, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, gynecological problems and other conditions.
- Psychological and emotional damage: IPV victims have increased risk of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and PTSD.
- Economic instability: Women who have experienced IPV have more difficulty maintaining stable work. Sometimes the woman’s partner interferes with her work to maintain power and control. Economic dependence on an abuser makes it extremely difficult for a woman to leave, especially if she has children.
- Social isolation: Often, abusers intentionally isolate victims from social supports to maintain power and control.
- Homelessness and job loss: IPV frequently results in homelessness and housing instability; sometimes a woman is forced to relocate, leaving her job if she has one.
Here at Catholic Charities, a large number of women in our transformational housing program at St. Margaret of Cortona have been victims of IPV; many women who seek counseling at Family Services and receive services from our other programs have also been affected by IPV.
Our goal is to help these women transform their lives. Through a series of careful and compassionate one-on-one encounters, we can assist with their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the effects of IPV, Catholic Charities is here for you:
- Catholic Charities has counselors at more than a dozen locations throughout the diocese.
- Our other resources include our family transformational housing, emergency financial assistance and food distribution.
- If someone experiencing IPV comes to you, you can respond by educating yourself about the problem, listening, validating the person’s feelings, and encouraging the person to seek help. Although it may be difficult, do not give advice; you can empower the person but allow the person to make her own decisions.
- Catholics for Family Peace, an educational initiative at The Catholic University of America’s National Catholic School of Social Service, has provided tips for responding to someone in need and recognizing signs of abuse.
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States have stated unequivocally that violence against women is never justified in any circumstance. If in a sacramental marriage, acting to end abuse does not violate one’s marriage promises. Violence in any form is sinful and does not treat the person as someone worthy of love.
For more information, please visit www.ccda.net, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 841-3830. Our programs are sustained by generous supporters like you. Please consider making a financial donation or giving the gift of your time on behalf of our clients suffering from IPV and all whom we serve.