Intimate Partner Violence and Smartphone Support


In reference to the centers for disease control and prevention (2006), intimate partner violence (IPV) is the cruelty that takes place between two individuals who are in a devoted relationship. The term intimate partner refers to any passionate or sexual relationship between two people who are not biologically related, courting relationships, cohabiting partners, relationships where two people share children but are no longer married or sexually involved or having a marital relationship. IPV survives alongside a scale from one episode of violence to constant battering. This means that the violence in the relationship escalates as time goes by, it keeps getting worse and may result in someone getting seriously hurt. IPV may escalate from a slap across the cheek one day, to kicks and blows the next day. IPV includes different types of aggression: physical abuse, sexual abuse, threats of physical or sexual violence and emotional abuse.

Violence is the use of intense physical and verbal abuse against one or more individuals, intending to coerce one into actions against his or her will. Violence is a means of manipulation. “Violence is a major cause of deaths for individuals aged 15-44 years globally, reporting for approximately 14 percent of deaths among males and 7 percent of deaths among females” (Bonem, Stanley- Kime & Corbin 2008).

Physical abuse is also referred to as physical aggression, conjugal and spousal violence. Physical abuse in relationships is described as “an act carried out with the intention or perceived intention of causing physical pain or injury to another person” (Shackelford, et al. 2005). The main aim of this behavior is to inflict short lived pain to the person being abused. This type of abuse is not limited to: slapping, cutting, pushing one out of a moving car, restraining one against their will, choking, hair pulling, pushing, punching, kicking just to mention but a few. Physical abuse may occur once in while in some relationships which is rare, but in majority of the relationships it is recurring and severe and it keeps intensifying in regularity and seriousness over time.

Sexual abuse according to McCue (2008) and Schechter et al (2008) comprises of all actions that fall under legal descriptions of rape including physical assaults to sexual body parts of the victim and insisting on sexual activities that the partner is uncomfortable with. Sexual abuse is also termed as “sex without consent, sexual assault, rape, sexual control of reproductive rights, and all types of sexual exploitation by the executor with the aim of inflicting emotional, sexual, and physical degradation to the victim”. Some examples of this behavior involve; physical damage against sexual body parts of the victim, forced penile penetration of all kinds, forced sexual acts through issuance of threats, forced sexual activity with animals, interference with birth control and forced partaking in pornography.

According to Hess & Orthmann (2009), “threats of physical or sexual violence imply the intention of causing death, disability, injury or physical harm verbally, kinesics or weapons”. These threats are meant to keep the victim subdued and feel inadequate to do anything that seems of help to them. The behaviors involved in this kind of IPV are not limited to: include the use of gun or knife to cause fear and apprehension in the victim, threats of homicide or suicide by the partner through statements like, “if you leave me, I will find you and kill you, if you leave me I will kill myself, if you leave I will take the children and you will never see them again, if I cannot have you no one else will”. These threats put the victim in a jail situation as the threats seem real to them and they opt to stay rather than find out if the perpetrator would carry out the threats.

Emotional abuse is also referred to as psychological abuse, verbal abuse and non physical abuse. Campbell (2005) states that use of vocal and non-vocal actions are used to figuratively hurt the victim. The use of words is employed in intimidating the victim without the use of physical violence. Emotional abuse is used by one partner to destroy the self esteem of the victim and this holds the victim prisoner as the victim cannot do anything or go anywhere without second guessing themselves. Psychological or emotional abuse is considered far much more worse than physical abuse as it destroys ones inner self, directly causes mental harm and restricts the victims health mentally, physically and emotionally thus completely making one a shadow of themselves. (Hamel & Tonia, 2007). Examples of emotional or psychological abuse are; yelling, belittling or ridiculing the partner, insulting the partner, doing things intentionally to anger the partner, acting indifferently to partners feelings just to mention but a few.

In reference to Stover (2005), it is extremely important to know, learn and understand intimate Partner violence because then one is able to identify the signs of IPV in their relationships. More over the topic is important as it gives one skills to help other people who may be involved in IPV. Through learning about IPV one will not only be able to offer help to the victim but also the perpetrator and the children if there are children involved. It is important to know about this topic so that after undergoing the abuse one can be able to rebuild their life and start afresh without feeling guilty or feeling that it is their fault that the abuse happened to them. Getting information about the topic will also give access to hotline numbers that one can call in times of need or help.

Method for literature search

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention computer database were searched for peer reviewed articles published concerning the topic in question. Articles that were published between the years 2000 and 2006 were looked at. The search terms used were, understanding, types, intimate, partner, violence and abuse. Online journals that are directly or indirectly related to the topic in question were searched also and online articles and books by different authors on the topic in question were searched for additional information. The method of searching for the literature brought out a wide range of articles written at different times and settings, it however interesting to note that the articles although range in time difference, they have the same information.

Key Terms

Intimate partner violence (IPV)

According to Dutton (2006), IPV is a hostile behavior carried out by a spouse, ex-spouse, present or past girlfriend or boyfriend. It is also termed as domestic violence, battering or spouse abuse. The type of abuse may vary from physical, sexual and mental in nature it comprises of vocal threats of physical or sexual violence towards a partner and also stalking partner.

Extent of Available Literature

There are wide ranging publications related to the issue of intimate partner violence and the kinds of IPV as well as the importance of learning about IPV. Majority of the literature is found in sociological and psychological journals, books and online articles written by individuals or organizations. IPV is viewed as a disease therefore information about it can be accessed and viewed on the centre for disease control and prevention. The kind of literature concerning IPV is vast and studies and research on this topic have been carried out and the outcomes have brought out statistical figures that show the percentages of women experiencing IPV and the percentages of women who have survived IPV. The studies give ways of spotting IPV in its initial stages, how to cope with it, how to help someone experiencing IPV, the cycle of violence in IPV. The literature also goes into detail giving extensive knowledge of the types of IPV and examples of types of behavior involved specifically in all types of IPV.

Theoretical Foundation and Conceptual Framework

Use of Theoretical Framework

The use of theoretical foundations and conceptual frameworks in this literature review is identified in articles authored or co-authored by organizations, psychologists and individuals who are concerned about IPV in families or relationships. Theoretical frameworks on this topic are mainly from the domain of psychology. Brandstadter, 1998 states that the theoretical frame work describes how to get help for IPV victims and survivors in predominantly cognitive terms, feelings are attached to and arbitrate between cognitions and deliberate actions. For example feelings of guiltiness and embarrassment may come as a consequence of a decision to get assistance which may hinder an abused woman from taking action on her resolution. Through the use of a theoretical framework for assisting IPV survivors; a step has been taken towards an attempt to explain the pressure on women’s decision making at every stage of help-seeking.

Concept of Adherence

Adherence, according to the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (2006), is the dynamic, intentional and mutual participation of the patient in a reciprocally satisfactory pattern of behavior to bring out a beneficial result. Option and goal settings are part and parcel of the concept of adherence. One has to make a choice to get better from IPV and set the goals they want to achieve from the choices they have made, treatment arrangements and accomplishment of the procedure. When it comes to IPV victims and survivors, they have to want to get well and get away from the person who is inflicting violence on them. The victim has to seek for help so as she can get the help she so desperately needs and requires. The women affected by IPV must have great tolerance levels so as to get themselves from the violence and start over their lives anew (Constatino, Noll & Braxter 2007).

Bandura’s self efficacy theory

Bandura’s theory states that behaviors can be studied through surveillance without one having to execute the behavior itself. Observation requires a lot of attention to detail of a model’s behavior and hanging on to the behaviors, having an incentive to repeat the behavior and the action of replicating the behavior. This type of replica is highly likely to occur when the spectator puts more importance on the result; the person being observed is more or less like the spectator, or when an opportunity to carry out the act presents itself. Let’s take for example a child who observes violence at home, will more often than not to become violent in his adult life. This is because the memories remain engraved in the child’s brain (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 2009). This shows how children can learn how to be violent by observing their care givers.

Bandura in his theory also asserts that human beings tend to concentrate on the outcomes, good or bad of the behavior they are observing. They tend to assess the characteristics of the behavior so as they can direct how they will behave. If an observed behavior brings about a favorable result, it is probable that the person will execute the action, hence reinforcing the behavior as well as concluding the progression of enactive learning. Three factors of surroundings, behavior and individual or cognition interrelate and inspire each other. This simply put means that an individual can actively manipulate their behavior, and guide their thoughts but it is not probable to always control their surroundings. Behavior can be supported and standardized through spectator learning and if an individual has not studied that non-violent acts are possible in some situations, they will more often than not to keep on replicating that violent behavior. This does not state that violence is involuntary or has to remain recurring. Bandura asserts that and believes that behavior is the consequence of human action or the capability for people to uphold an extent of domination over their lives (Dowler, 2009)

Theories from the discipline of psychology

There are two theories according to the Wilcox (2006) that weighed profoundly on intimate partner violence; these are social learning theory which in other words is the passing on of violence from one generation to the next and the feminist theory otherwise referred to as the idea that male dominance in the society affects interpersonal relationships. Another theory by Tonia & Hamel (2007) states that stress may actively contribute to intimate partner violence.

Bandura’s, Social learning theory suggests that IPV may be induced by media incidents whereby a model is given a reward or punishment for carrying out violent behaviors. Moreover to the degree that the model is comparable to the perpetrator, the perpetrator will be less influenced to replicate the models behavior (Shorey, Cornelius, and Bell 2008). This theory shows that if the media condemns IPV the rates of it happening are more likely to drop as compared to when the media shows violence without any retribution for it. The fact that punishments are given out to people who indulge in IPV will make other people not to indulge in it as they are avoiding the punishment. Social learning theory also suggests that children who have grown up in a violent homes witnessing IPV are more likely to be violent in their adult lives as they seem to view it as the way of the world and how things should be. Through this the IPV is passed on from one generation to the next as the children learn it through observing their care givers.

The feminist theory is centered on four general varieties: first, as the domineering species, men have discrepancy to materials and figurative resources and women are brought down as minor and mediocre. Secondly, intimate partner abuse is excepted and ordinary in the realm of regular family life. Thirdly, women needs and their skills are often described as inferior because male domineerance manipulates all characteristics of life. Fourth, the feminist approach is devoted to advocacy for women. These common perceptions of women in the society tend to heighten the rates of IPV in homes as men tend to think that women are supposed to be their subordinates and they will go to any lengths to prove that men dominate and rule over the society (Carney, Buttell & Dutton 2007).

Empirical Literature


Intimate Partner violence, in reference to Carswell (2006) is armored by gender rules that place women in lesser positions as compared to men. Women are more often than not likely to be abused, when their intimate partners have lower level education and job status than them. Women with very poor education status are less likely to be abused so are the women with high educational backgrounds in the society are at the greatest risk of IPV. Independent Making of decisions in marriage life is a huge hazard factor of IPV in many situations (Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (2010).

In reference to Dutton & Nicholls (2005), almost 5.3 million cases of intimate partner violence take place yearly among United States women aged 18 years and above, resulting to about 2.1 million injuries and 1,400 deaths. IPV does not discriminate and happens in all populations, despite of social, economic, religious or culture, though young women and those living below the poverty line are adversely affected (Hampton, Gullotta & Ramos 2006). Jackson (2007) notes “the worst part about IPV, is that as many as 324,000 women annually experience IPV during their pregnancy.” In addition to this IPV accounts for 20% of all non-fatal crimes experienced by women in the year 2001 in the United States, 44% of women killed by their intimate partner had gone to the emergency room within two years of the murder, while 93% of women had at least one injury that forced them to visit the emergency room (Johnson 2006).

Physical Consequences

McDonald et al. (2006) states that women with a historical background of IPV turn up 60% of all health related problems as compared to women with no history of IPV. This shows that IPV contributes to health problems in life and women who experience IPV are at a higher risk of health issues as compared to women who do not undergo IPV. According to Johnson (2006), the more brutal the abuse the greater the consequence on a woman’s physical and mental health, which eventually results in increasing effect over time (Roof 2009).

Psychological consequences

According to Tilbrook, Allan & Dear (2010), “Women who have experienced IPV are more often than not to show behaviors that present more health risks like substance use and abuse, alcoholism, and increased threats of suicide attempts.” Such behaviors tend to surface as one feels that they are worthless and cannot make decisions by themselves as the men in their lives make sure that they damage their inner selves to a point where they lack any self esteem. The violence affects one mentally as they have been held in a mental jail cell and they are looking for ways in which they can free themselves and feel better about themselves.

Social Consequences

According to U.S Department of Justice (2007), women in violent relationship have been established to be confined in the way they get the right to use services, participate in public life and accept emotional support from friends and relatives. Women who have been battered by their intimate partners tend to put the blame on themselves and they shy away from their family and friends. They withdraw into themselves as they feel embarrassed; they avoid people so that they cannot answer questions pertaining to their injuries. The violence that these women experience deny them of their social lives as the trauma that accompanies the violence is too much for some of them to handle.

Economic Consequences

On the economic side, Llyod and Taluc (1999) found that women who came into contact with male perpetrated IPV were more likely to undergo sessions of unemployment, have health problems and become welfare beneficiaries. Women tend to be absent from work as they stay home or in the hospital to tend to their injuries away from the prying eyes of workmates, friends and relatives. IPV causes health complications that these women suffer from later on in life which may render them incapable of working for long hours or working at all. These women then become welfare beneficiaries so that they can at least fend for and provide for their families. They turn to welfare because of unemployment that is directly or indirectly linked to IPV.

Smart phones and Intimate Partner Violence

Phone Scoop, (2010), states that; a smart phone is a gadget that gives additional sophisticated performance operations capabilities and a higher conncetion rate when compared to a normal mobile phone. Smart phones are at times referred to as handheld supercomputers or personal pocket computers with mobile functions. A smart phone enables the person using it to install and use more superior and complex appliances based on a particular stage.

Smart phones that have been donated to women who have survived IPV and those who are still experiencing IPV are of help as these gadgets help the women call for help at any time of day or night. These smart phones come with all the hotline numbers and emergency contacts that a woman in need may call for help. The phones are already programmed and this gives the women a sense of security as they know help is just a call away. The good thing about these phones is that they come loaded with free minutes so that the users may be able to call for help at any time. These phones are also portable and their portability allows the users to carry the phones everywhere they go.

Victims of IPV may obtain a restraining order against their perpetrators but these perpetrators may ignore the restraining order and try to harm the victim again. They may cut the phone lines and force their way into the house so as to batter these women, with a smart phone in hand the women are able to call for help before the perpetrator can do more damage to their bodies. These phones enable the victims to call for help from their homes, cars or in other places where their perpetrators can cause them harm.

A study carried out by Roof (2009), found out that women who had smart phones with fitted all the emergency numbers felt safer than women who did not have them. The reason given was that the abused women feel safer and secure as they had a phone that can be used to call for help in any location whenever the perpetrator threatened or showed signs of wanting to hurt them. Women who did not have smart phones felt afraid as they could not call for help when they were in danger. If each woman who is a victim of IPV is given a smart phone top use in times of danger then the rates of IPV will reduce as their perpetrators will stay away from them for fear of being caught (na 2009).

Feasibility of email-mediated interaction

Email interactions between the survivors of IPV and a health care provider, provides support for the victim while offering information that these abused women need so as to get help for their IPV inflictions. On the other hand these email interactions may result in a lot of harm on the other hand to the survivor when the executor finds out the victim was talking to someone and gaining help from outside (Constatino et al 2007). Safety, privacy, acceptability and practicability needs to be decided on before the decision of using emails is decided upon. Healthcare providers need to promote the therapeutic relationship, privacy and confidentiality for women and children with the use of technology. Email supported interventions have shown a great deal of promise in other areas. Once the abuse is identified, ongoing email interaction may be a welcome resource and enhance outcomes with women and children living with abuse. Determining the feasibility of email-mediated intervention will inform researchers about the usefulness, efficacy and cost of future efforts as well as consumer/client satisfaction (Phone Scoop 2010).


Summary of current Knowledge

In summary, the issue of intimate partner violence is recognized by the centre for disease control and prevention as a disease that is affecting majority of households in the United States of America. Facts, figures and knowledge of this particular topic are adequately and readily available on the internet, magazines, and on hot lines numbers. This is to say that this is a major problem in the United States of America across all social classes of people, and ways of identifying and preventing it are being looked at and implemented.

Current knowledge suggests that men and women can experience IPV but women are the most affected. Mainly, due to the belief that men have to dominate in all aspects of life makes the violence against women more severe and brutal that at times it results in death of a person. The knowledge suggests that there are common symptoms that an IPV perpetrator will show before he fully executes the violence on his partner. It is these signs and symptoms that a woman should look out for and identify so that she can get out of the situation early enough and avoid trips to the emergency room.

Information on IPV explains critically and in depth the different forms of IPV that are there and how to cope with the violence once you start experiencing it. The different forms of IPV are brought on by different things but the underlying factor is that this violence can be learned through observation and executed in imitation of the perpetrator. Information of finding out if ones relatives or friends are experiencing IPV is provided in help organization home pages, books, magazines and not to mention the internet (na 2007).

Efforts to combat this pandemic in the United States have proven to be worthwhile as safe houses have been put up in many places to shelter women who are survivors of IPV, laws have been implemented that administer harsh punishments to perpetrators of IPV, hot lines and emergency services have been set up to help women who are undergoing these horrible situations. Furthermore, support groups have been formed for women who have survived IPV so that they can help the women who are still experiencing his violence. To add on to this, women are being provided with smart phones that they can use to call for help from anywhere at any time of day or night whenever a perpetrator of violence threatens their safety or the safety of the children.

The literature shows figures of IPV, how the victims are affected physically, socially, mentally, and economically and how to help the victims of IPV as well how to help the perpetrators of violence themselves. There is a strong support system for victims and survivors of IPV in that a woman should not be afraid of walking away from a relationship where she is experiences violence as she is not alone and there are people who are more than willing to help her out.

Gaps in the knowledge base

Gaps in the knowledge base of intimate partner violence comes in, where the security and safety of the victims and field staff is concerned. This is because the information is easily provided and recorded but the safety of the people giving the information and the people collecting it may be in danger from the perpetrator of violence. The perpetrators of violence do not like being exposed so they will go to great lengths to protect themselves so as they cannot be exposed. Failure to provide security for the victims and the collectors of the information can affect the quality of the data collected and puts the contributors in danger of physical or emotional harm. The world health organization has however provided and come up with safety and ethical guidelines for carrying out the research on intimate partner violence.

The accessibility and worth of data in the topic varies from situation to situation and setting to setting, which brings about the gap when it comes to making a general conclusion on the topic. Some areas have poor settings such that data cannot be adequately collected and analyzed. The quality of data in some instances may be feeble and incoherent over time and not fully represent the population that is being described or researched on. Multiple counting of women seeking help from agencies gives gaps in the research of the knowledge of IPV. This is because the women may seek help from different agencies and be counted more than once in the end making the statistics of women seeking help incorrect. These gaps are brought by insufficient training, resources and ability for those gathering the data, poor organization among agencies and poor support system.

Gaps also occur when service founded statistics are amalgamated when social services aside from the police are not in existence, or existence is only in limited number, or when violence against women is not considered as an offense generally by the police or by society and is hardly ever acted upon. Further more victims of intimate partner violence are highly discriminated against in some societies they therefore they tend to keep to themselves and do not come out looking for help or support. As a result, substantial disparity subsists in the degree to which service based numbers are available at the national level (Rosen et al. 2005).


Quite a number of recommendations have been made based on the shortcomings and gaps studies on this topics have encountered and left.

Kind of abuse measured: it is imperative to take into account the device being theorized in a particular study since some of them for example STD or HIV transmission, would need assessing intensity of sexual abuse, while some devices would look at the link and connection between physical or emotional abuse and the harmful outcomes.

Present or generation abuse: scholars must take into consideration if they should measure abuse by a recent partner or by a lifelong occurrence of abuse relying on the results of relevance and the suggested procedure to explain it. Without a doubt, frequency of lifetime abuse would be presumed to be more than occurrence of present abuse, which is much easier to make a connection between abuse and a certain result of the abuse, despite of a reasonable explanation for finding a link.

Describing abuse in pregnancy: different definitions associated with violence during pregnancy make it difficult to equate findings across studies. It is imperative to emphasize on the differences between continuing pregnancy and particular patterns of abuse. Violence during pregnancy should be separated into: abuse during pregnancy, abuse continued during pregnancy, or abuse stopped during pregnancy.

Describing the executor; Scholars should also take into consideration, the abuse is carried out by someone else, other than the intimate partner for example, a family member. Researches done on strictly on intimate partners would not include violence carried out by parent or a sibling. These variations then bring out different occurrence rates which result to biased results. Specifically in pregnancy abuse it is important to note whether the perpetrator was aware of the pregnancy or not, so as to comprehend the reason for the abuse.

Time of interview: studies have proved that women who are interviewed numerous times during their pregnancy about abuse in their lives are more often than not likely to give elevated, precise, occurrence rates than the women who are interviewed only once during their first prenatal visit. Women who undergo difficult pregnancy outcomes are more likely to give an account of violence as compared to the women who do not undergo difficult outcomes as they look for how to explain for their difficult outcomes. This biasness is present when it comes to disclosure and outcomes are evaluated at the same time.

Devices used: quite a number of instruments have been acquired for evaluating abuse. Calculating the authenticity of the devices is crucial so as to get reliable outcomes for contrasting across studies carried out at different times and place using the same device. World Health Organization researchers have developed gadgets for evaluating abuse against women into a variety of different settings through use of standard instruments in their multiple country research.

Collection of data: studies in the Unites States of America have proved that more quotients of violence were reported to health care givers as compared to self-report questionnaires, other studies found that frequent screening for violence was accepted by most women. World Health Organization has come up with a detailed safety and ethical procedure for protecting research interviewees, interviewers and researchers during the period and after the research has been conducted.

Control for confound factors: a confounding factor is a feature that is related with both the action and the result of the outcome. When scholars fall short in managing the confounding feature, they might obtain unauthentic relations when they exist or fail to find a link that in reality does exist. Sufficient perceptions of the risk factors for the results have to be acquired before the study and evaluation plan. After the research has been conducted, the evaluation ought to conclude if the factors are connected to both the action and result and appropriate alterations should be made.

Take into account moderating variables: on top of regulating confounding factors, other factors may behave as the moderators, on the relationship between violence and serious outcomes. These moderators cannot be managed like confounding factors but they enhance descriptive ability to the investigation. A number of scholars have established confirmation of moderating variables in their studies of domestic violence and the outcomes. For example, the following were founded to be some of the moderating variables of IPV socio-economic class, smoking, prematurity, and growth restriction status affected birth weight of children.

Smartphones is a vital tool in the fight against IPV, though little has been made to utilize it fully. Using smartphones, medical professionals and the authorities can offer immediate assistance to those experiencing IPV and further action can be taken to prevent future cases. For future studies we need to explore the influence and impact of smartphones as a means of emergency response for women experiencing intimate partner violence and the way women understand this form of care. From this review the following issues were identified as requiring deeper research: (1) the need to understand the use of smartphones; (2) the factors influencing adoption this method; and (3) the type and consequent impact of smartphones.


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