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Intimate Partner Violence Task Force Tips and Resources During COVID-19 Outbreak

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the American College of Surgeons recognizes that survivors of IPV are spending increased amounts of time in isolated spaces with their abusers. 

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What Is Intimate Partner Violence?

Cover of October 2020 BulletinAccording 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

Clinical Congress 2020 Panel – Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence is a serious cause of injury and death for people of all genders, ages, and social strata including surgeons and their family members. As a consequence of stay-at-home orders put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an alarming increase in calls to domestic violence hotlines. Concurrently, courts, schools, and day care centers are closed and legal resources are not available. Shelters are either closed or overcrowded and the expected decline in the world economy will make it more challenging for victims to leave their abusers. This panel highlights the urgent need for increased recognition of IPV in the setting of the pandemic and the need for awareness, support, and resources from surgical departments.

AAMC Webinar – Creating Safe and Inclusive Environments for Faculty and Students in the Biomedical Setting
With the presence of #MeToo, Time's Up Healthcare, and diversity and inclusion efforts broadly at member institutions, leaders in academic medicine are increasingly aware of the need to create safe and inclusive environments. Recent studies have highlighted the prevalence and profound impact of sexual and gender harassment. Institutional leaders are looking for best practices to create safe environments that go beyond simply legal compliance. This webinar explored the more nuanced aspects of creating safe and inclusive environments including gender harassment, understanding the prevalence and impact of intimate partner violence, and strategies to promote inclusion in the scientific environment.

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

About the IPV Task Force

The IPV Task Force—co-chaired by Barbara Lee Bass, MD, FACS, and Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, 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.

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*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.