Evolving Terminology – Intimate Partner Abuse
Intimate partner abuse has been called many things over the years.
From battered women to domestic violence, as the understanding of intimate partner abuse has evolved, so has the terminology used to describe it.
The phrase domestic violence gained wider recognition in the 1970s with the Battered Women’s Movement, or Domestic Violence Movement.
Historically the term domestic violence implied:
- Physical violence
- Violence against women in heterosexual relationships
- Residing in the same home
- Domestic issue
The legal definition of domestic violence or domestic abuse includes intimate partners but can also refer to family violence, such as violence between siblings or abuse of an elderly parent.
We know intimate partner abuse can happen in any type of relationship regardless of gender, age, or gender identity. It can be more than just violence, including emotional and financial abuse.
As an organization, we prefer to use the term ‘intimate partner abuse.’ This distinguishes the focus of our mission and avoids historic assumptions common to the term domestic violence.
Use of the word “abuse” rather than “violence” conveys that one person made the decision to harm another person.
Academic research and many who advocate for survivors often use the abbreviation IPV for intimate partner violence. But our mission is still a topic that isn’t talked about publicly, and too often is still considered a private matter.
We say the words because they need to be heard, considered, and talked about.