American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

What Is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)?

October 2018 Bulletin coverAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IPV is a significant and preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner.

An intimate partner is a person with whom one has a close personal relationship that can be characterized by the following:

  • Emotional connectedness
  • Regular contact
  • Ongoing physical contact and/or sexual behavior
  • Identity as a couple
  • Familiarity and knowledge about each other’s lives

A relationship does not need to involve all the dimensions outlined above. Examples of intimate partners include current or former spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, dating partners, significant others, or sexual partners. IPV can occur in heterosexual or same-sex relationships and does not require sexual intimacy. IPV exists on a continuum of severity and may range from a single transient episode to chronic and severe episodes spanning years and engendering significant physical and psychological trauma.*

Statement on Intimate Partner Violence

The ACS IPV Task Force and Women in Surgery Committee updated the ACS Statement on Intimate Partner Violence developed by the Committee on Trauma (COT) in 2014. The revised statement replaced the COT’s 2000 Statement on Domestic Violence. The Board of Regents approved the statement at its June 2018 meeting in Chicago, IL.

Read the statement

ACS Intimate Partner Violence Toolkit

Developed for ACS members, the ACS IPV Toolkit focuses on the risks of IPV, and how to recognize IPV in your colleagues, patients, and yourself. The kit provides information on how to determine if someone is in danger and how to plan for safety, what the current laws are around IPV, and how to get help.

Access the toolkit

Resources for Surgeons

The task force has curated a list of medical and non-profit organizations and resources to support ACS members and their patients.

Learn more

About the IPV Task Force

The IPV Task Force—co-chaired by Barbara Lee Bass, MD, FACS, and Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS—aims to raise awareness of the incidence of IPV in the surgical community; educate surgeons to recognize the signs and consequences of IPV in themselves and their colleagues; provide resources for survivors; and create resources and curricula to instruct surgeons about how to recognize IPV in colleagues and trainees.

Read more


*Breiding M, Basile K, Smith S, Black M, Mahendra R. Intimate Partner Violence Surveillance Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements Version 2.0. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2015. Available at: www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/intimatepartnerviolence.pdf. Accessed August 27, 2018.