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Devastating Reality of Intimate Partner Violence

L.Y. Marlow and Charlotte Fedders are two successful authors who both lived through traumatic situations of intimate partner violence (IPV) and hope to end the vicious cycle of abuse.

“I know domestic violence is still pervasive, it’s still very disturbing,” said Fedders.

According to a CDC fact sheet, about 24 people per minute become victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. Over 12M suffer each year, and IPV accounted for 14 percent of all homicides in 2007. Marlow recognizes this grave reality.


“As you hear my voice today, some unfortunate person is involved in an intimate partner violence situation,” Marlow said.

Marlow previously worked in the executive world for 20 years but felt discouraged amid the many challenges and obstacles she faced. She wrote two books about her life experiences: Color Me Butterfly and Don’t Look at the Monster: One Woman’s Journey to Embrace a Purposeful Life.

In addition, Marlow has endured five generations – over 60 years – of IPV within her family and started the Saving Promise organization as a way to provide support to those affected.

Saving Promise and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health collaborated to create The Learning Lab Initiative, an IPV research and development organization.

“The objective of the Learning Lab is to create a synergistic continuum that brings together prevention models, public awareness and advocacy and unite the public and private sectors to impact change,” the website reads.

Charlotte Fedders is another author who has dedicated her life to helping end IPV. Although she considers herself upper-middle class, Fedders realized her family experienced domestic abuse after watching The Burning Bed. Fedders was married to a very successful lawyer, John Fedders, who was repeatedly abusives. However, Charlotte Fedders didn’t file for divorce, despite her parents advice.

Fedders eventually realized she endured battered wife syndrome and wrote a book, Shattered Dreams. Later on, her story came to life in a film adaption of the same name.

Even though the APA reports that violence most often occurs within lower socioeconomic status households, Fedders’ story indicates it’s not just women in poverty who suffer from IPV. A Planned Parenthood fact sheet states that IPV can affect women and men from any background.

“Women and men of all sexual orientations, races, ages, and marital and socioeconomic statuses are at risk for relationship violence — however, some groups report higher rates of victimization,” the fact sheet reads.

Race plays another large role in domestic violence. Women of color experience significantly higher rates of IPV. Similarly, cultural norms still support domestic violence, making prevention strategies difficult in certain countries.

Many patriarchal societies believe men have the right to physically discipline their wives. Some countries believe that a woman’s freedom should be restricted, that divorce is shameful, that a man’s honor correlates with a woman’s sexual behavior, or that IPV is a taboo subject, making it difficult to stop the culture of domestic violence.

Similarly, this pattern appears in Hispanic culture through the “machismo factor,” where men aggressively assert their dominance over women. Out of 822 Latinas murdered between 2003 and 2014, 75 percent lost their lives due to IPV. Overall, these cultural standards prevent efforts against IPV and contribute to the shockingly high numbers of domestic abuse.

Both Fedders and Marlow understand abuse affects multiple races, ethnicities, and social classes. It happens everywhere – in America and around the world. Through stories and efforts from women like these, the severity of IPV can be better understood for more impactful prevention efforts.

Featured Image by Hernán Piñera on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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