Section 4: Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19

by Nidhi Patel

Keywords: intimate partner violence, gender violence, domestic violence, coronavirus, trauma, abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, and/or verbal), and public health. 

The Center for Disease Control has labeled intimate partner violence as a serious public health issue, and this crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as survivors of gender violence are forced to live at home with their abusers under lockdown measures. Domestic violence is defined as a “pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” It can include physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse. The physical and mental health effects of domestic violence can be lifelong, and include chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior. UN Women reports that approximately 30% of women worldwide have or will experience violence in their lifetime. While many cases go unreported, domestic violence instances have risen around the globe. France, Argentina, Singapore, and Cyprus all experienced more than a 25% increase in domestic violence cases since the March shutdown.  
This section of the public syllabus investigates Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19 through news, academic, website, and video resources. Under the first subheading, you will find sources that depict the state of intimate partner violence in the present moment – that is, over the past few months in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles under the second subheading take a step back from the peculiarities of our current times and provide broader information on the causes and consequences of intimate partner violence, in the aim that it will allow visitors of the public syllabus to gain a more complex understanding of the topic. After this are narratives of women who have experienced abuse, as it is difficult to comprehend the weight of this issue without hearing human stories of suffering and resilience. To examine how sociocultural norms shape experiences of intimate partner violence, the fourth subheading incorporates sources on South Asian experiences of domestic violence, and toxic masculinity. To explore how this issue can proliferate under crisis conditions, the fifth subheading includes sources related to intimate partner violence in humanitarian emergencies Finally, this section ends with resources that explore what policies have been and must be implemented to build a violence free world.

Interview Audio


Reichard, Raquel. “Denice Frohman Is The Poet Behind Twitter’s #HereWeAre Campaign.” Fierce. March 06, 2018.

Intimate Partner Violence in the Current Moment 

“Issue Brief: COVID-19 and Ending Violence against Women and Girls: Digital Library: Publications.” UN Women.

Taub, Amanda. “A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide.” The New York Times. April 06, 2020.

Causes and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence

Jewkes, Rachel. “Intimate Partner Violence: Causes and Prevention.” The Lancet 359, no. 9315 (2002): 1423-429. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(02)08357-5.

Herman, Judith Lewis. “Complex PTSD: A Syndrome in Survivors of Prolonged and Repeated Trauma.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 5, no. 3 (1992): 377-91. doi:10.1002/jts.2490050305.

Holt, Stephanie, Helen Buckley, and Sadhbh Whelan. “The Impact of Exposure to Domestic Violence on Children and Young People: A Review of the Literature.” Child Abuse & Neglect 32, no. 8 (2008): 797-810. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.02.004.

Narratives of Domestic Violence Survivors 

“The US System Didn’t Protect These Women – so Now They’re Taking a Stand for Others.” Amnesty International.

Sociocultural Norms and Intimate Partner Violence 

Case Study I: Intimate Partner Violence in South Asian Culture 

Jasvinder Sanghera, “Fighting forced marriages and honour based abuse,” YouTube video, 18:06, November 28, 2013,

Anitha, Venkataramani-Kothari. “Understanding South Asian Immigrant Womenʹs Experiences of Violence.” In Body Evidence: Intimate Violence against South Asian Women in America, edited by Shamita Dasgupta, 11-23. Rutgers University Press, 2007.

Diya, Kallivayalil. “Mental and Emotional Wounds of Domestic Violence in South Asian Women.” In Body Evidence: Intimate Violence against South Asian Women in America, edited by Shamita Dasgupta, 81-93. Rutgers University Press, 2007.

Case Study II: Toxic Masculinity 

Ben, Hurst. “Boys won’t be boys. Boys will be what we teach them to be,” YouTube video, 10:12, January 7, 2019,

David, Brockway. “The damage caused by toxic masculinity ,” YouTube video, 3:34, May 4, 2019,

“Harmful Masculinity and Violence.” American Psychological Association.

Intimate Partner Violence in Humanitarian Crises 

Khawaja, Marwan, and Barazi, Rana. “Prevalence of Wife Beating in Jordanian Refugee Camps: Reports by Men and Women.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59, no. 10 (2005): 840-41.

Vu, Alexander, Adam, Atif, Wirtz, Andrea, Pham, Kiemanh, Rubenstein, Leonard, Glass, Nancy, Beyrer, Chris, and Singh, Sonal. “The Prevalence of Sexual Violence among Female Refugees in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” PLoS Currents 6 (2014): PLoS Currents, 2014, Vol.6.

Marsh, M, Purdin, S, and Navani, S. “Addressing Sexual Violence in Humanitarian Emergencies.” Global Public Health 1, no. 2 (2006): 133-46.

“Coronavirus: Domestic Violence ‘Increases Globally during Lockdown’.” BBC News.

Past and Future Policies to Eradicate Intimate Partner Violence 

“Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.” OHCHR.

Law, Tara. “What to Know on Joe Biden and the Violence Against Women Act.” Time. September 13, 2019.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices.” (7-15). 2017.