Intimate Partner Violence and Homicide


street fightI am thankful everyday when I think back to my very personal experience as a survivor of Intimate Partner Violence[IPV]. I was neither poor nor uneducated, but I lived within this reality of fear and uncertainty on a daily basis. There were many occasions in which I thought that I was certain to be killed, and leave my children without their mother. Actually, you can’t get more intimate than when your partner is also your legal spouse. Logically, you ask the question of why women[men, also] stay in these relationships, as from the outside, it seems to be illogical. After all, that violence is violent and extremely unfair to use a ‘loved’ one as an emotional outlet. Mainly, it is unwarranted, as it has more to do with the abusive partner than the subject of that abuse.

Is it for the children, or do we believe that we can change the other person, or has the abuse become so intertwined and compounded by psychological abuses that we feel that it is our own fault? Who knows the answer, because certainly, it is a complex one at best. We tell the victims who are subject to violent partner’s abusive behaviors that, “You should leave!” “There are places you can go to be safe.” “You don’t have to take this kind of treatment.” Worst than that, we say that these couples should seek counseling. As if….

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Survivors are lucky to get out alive, if they in fact do seize any opportunity to leave the situation or sever the relationship. Fortunately, I happen to be one of the lucky ones. I was able to leave- not unscathed, but gone. Moving forward, here are some statistics regarding those who never left willingly, but their escape was death…. at the hands of their partner-their abuser.

Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women aged ≤44 years. In 2015, homicide caused the death of 3,519 girls and women in the United States. Rates of female homicide vary by race/ethnicity  and nearly half of victims are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. Non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native women experienced the highest rates of homicide (4.4 and 4.3 per 100,000 population, respectively). Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related.

Approximately 15% of female homicide victims  of reproductive age, 18-44 years, were pregnant or postpartum.

Homicide is the most severe health outcome of violence against women, and young women, racial/ethnic minority women, were disproportionately affected. A cross all groups of women, over 1/2 of female homicides, IPV-related, over 90% of these women were killed by their current or former intimate partner.

Strategies to prevent related homicides range from protecting women from immediate harm and intervening in current situations, to developing and implementing programs and policies to prevent IPV from occurring. First responders who assess risk for lethality can identify victims at risk for future violence. These assessments should inform and facilitate immediate safety planning and connect women with other services, such as crisis intervention, counseling, housing, medical and legal advocacy, as well as access to other community services.

State statutes limiting access to firearms for persons under a domestic violence restraining order can serve as another preventive measure associated with reduced risk for intimate partner homicide and firearm intimate partner homicide.

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Approximately one in 10 victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the preceding month, which could have provided opportunities for intervention. Bystander programs, such as Green Dot, teach participants how to recognize situations or behaviors that may become violent and to safely and effectively intervene to reduce the likelihood of assault. In health care settings, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women of childbearing ages are screened for IPV and that they refer those women who screen positive for intervention services.

Approximately 40% of non-racial/ethnic minority female homicide victims were aged 18-29 years. Argument and jealousy seem to be common precipitating factors.

Teaching safe and healthy relationship skills is important for strategically preventive efforts to reduce IPV. Young people must be taught to manage their emotions conflict management and improve problem-solving and communication skills. Preventing IPV from occurring also requires community efforts and the systemic factors that increase risk, like disadvantaged neighborhoods affected by poverty. Low social cohesion, lack of community or a ‘village’ approach to daily living also increases risk. Language barriers and lack of cultural competence or awareness of available services and resources adds to risk, too.

Ultimately, it behooves all stakeholders, service providers, educators, agencies and CBO’s need an awareness of risk factors and should have policies, protocols and culturally relevant strategies, including intervention strategies which serve to protect, educate, refer and identify women at risk or in relationships that have characteristic components associated with IPV. Women need empowerment and supportive involvement of all in close proximity. That includes neighbors, friends, families, and strangers.

We shouldn’t have to scream out,”FIRE” in order that someone will intervene. Intervening doesn’t mean physical involvement, or placing oneself at harm. It can be a telephone call to 911. That is the least that anyone can do. Ladies teach your children to dial 911. Give them the security pin to your phone, or teach them that none is needed if making an emergency call. Teach boys and young men to manage their emotions and anger, and tell them that emphatically, it is never ok to hit any females. Teach girls in ways that equip them with the self esteem and strength to leave or avoid relationships that begin to look toxic, harmful.

Education is the key to prevention, and emotional literacy, mutual respect, empathy, and academic achievement can all be fostered in the same environment and nurtured at home and in the community. It should be included within every content area at school, even if it is not addressed at home. If we aren’t a part of the solutions, then we are part of the problem! These types of problems, we do not need.

Coaching Boys into Men and Preventing Sexual Violence

We teach our boys differently than we teach girls in ways that may contribute to sexual violence committed against girls and women. In fact we teach girls how they should avoid wearing ‘provocative’ clothing when they go out. They are told to avoid high heels, short dresses, wearing too much makeup, not to go out or ‘hang out’ with all boys. These strategies and tips are parents and society’s ways to protect girls from being seually assaulted. What do we teach boys? They are taught that many conquests are rites of passage into manhood, but we don’t tell them how to approach girls, how to make their moves, or when it is ok to make sexual advances with females.

Guys grow up under this cloak of the ‘bro code’ and are given license to assault women in many ways. What we teach boys is equally as important as what we don’t teach them. We must begin to take so much pressure off of girls and communicate to them that it is their fault somehow if they are ever assaulted. It is not their responsibility if unwanted advances are made upon them, and yes, there are ways that they may decrease the possibility of assault. However, we, as adults, parents, educators, and general society, must alter the ways we communicate to both sexes about proper sexual ‘etiquette’.

Boys must learn and be socialized to behave and regard girls and women, not as sexual objects for their pleasures, but as people who deserve respect. Despite what a girl or woman wears, how she acts, or who she is with, she deserves respect, and along with that, the opportunity to say ‘no’. Boys must be taught to understand and heed that word. They must be taught to understand signs from girls and the indicators of consent or messages of nonconsent in terms of communicated attitudes and behaviors from the opposite sex.

Donald Trump may have popularized and legitimized ‘locker room’ talk about women, but we can and should teach boys differently. Read more about strategies used to teach and coach boys into becoming and acting like gentlemen at all times.


How HPV Affects Communities of Color

Students with teacherHuman papillomavirus (or HPV) causes several types of cancers, and some communities of color have higher rates of these cancers. HPV vaccine can protect against cancers caused by HPV infection, protecting communities of color from these often devastating cancers.

About HPV

HPV is a very common and widespread virus. Nearly everyone will be infected in their lifetime. In most cases, HPV infections go away on their own and do not cause any health problems. But when HPV infections do not go away, they can cause cancer.

Cancers caused by HPV infection include cervical cancer, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, and anus. HPV can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx). Cancer can take years, even decades, to develop after a person gets an HPV infection. While cervical cancer can be detected through screening, there is no routine screening for other cancers caused by HPV infection. To learn more about HPV and the types of cancers it causes, visit the Link Between HPV and Cancer(

How Cancers Caused by HPV Affect Communities of Color

Every year in the United States, an estimated 17,600 women and 9,300 men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV.

  • Black men have higher rates of anal cancer than white men.
  • Hispanic men have higher rates of penile cancer than non-Hispanic men.
  • Although Hispanic women have the highest rates of getting cervical cancer, Black women have the highest rates of dying of cervical cancer.
  • Black women also have higher rates of vaginal cancer than women of other races.
	Family riding bicyclesDon’t miss an opportunity to protect your child from cancer. HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys at ages 11-12 to protect against cancers and other diseases caused by HPV.

You Can Prevent Cancers Caused by HPV

It’s true! You can prevent HPV cancers. HPV vaccination can prevent infection with the HPV types that most commonly cause these cancers. HPV vaccination can decrease the risk of developing a cancer caused by HPV and help improve the health of both men and women across the country in all racial/ethnic groups. This is why CDC recommends that all preteen boys and girls (age 11 or 12) get the HPV vaccine series before age 13 to protect against cancers and pre-cancers.

Why ages 11 or 12? HPV vaccine works best when it is given at the recommended ages of 11 or 12. If your teen did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger, talk to their doctor or nurse about getting it for them as soon as possible. Girls and women are recommended to get HPV vaccine through age 26, and boys and men through age 21. HPV vaccination is also recommended for gay and bisexual young men (or any young man who has sex with men) through age 26 and young men with weakened immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger.

For more information about who should get the HPV vaccine visit Questions and Answers about HPV(

While many HPV infections can be prevented through vaccination, early cervical cancer detection through screening is critical in reducing this cancer caused by HPV. To learn more about cervical cancer screening, including when you should be screened, visit HPV Cancer Screening.(

Protect Yourself, Your Children, Your Community

Educate yourself, your family, and your community on how to protect against cancers caused by HPV and about HPV vaccine. Get screened for cervical cancer and ask your child’s doctor about HPV vaccine. Visit CDC’s HPV website( to learn more.