Learning More About Intimate Partner Violence: How Does IPV Manifest Itself.

by Darya Ebrahimi


As per the definition provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), violence is the ‘intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual; either against oneself, other persons, a group or community which results in a high likelihood of injury, death and psychological harm’. On the same coin, intimate partner violence (IPV) is the violence observed within a relationship and a couple dynamic. IPV usually arises from intimate relationships resulting in physical, psychological and sexual harm to the individuals in the relationship. Some examples of behaviours present within IPV relationships include controlling behaviours, sexual violence, and emotion-psychological abuse. It’s easy to use the term IPV and domestic violence (DV) interchangeably; however, the two differ in the way in which DV is a far broader aspect of abuse, whilst IPV is narrowed in on relationships between two people who have an emotional connectedness, regular contact, and continuous physical contact and sexual behaviour. IPV does not discriminate. It can be perpetuated by both women or men in same-sex and heterosexual relationships regardless of marital status. It is noteworthy to mention that an overwhelming number of women suffer from IPV due to the unequal power dynamics between men and women. 

Among every woman in a relationship, the prevalence of IPV is 30%. Countries in Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia have reported the highest incidence of IPV. In Malaysia alone, a survey by Shuib demonstrated an approximately 8% prevalence of IPV endured by women who have ever been partners. With that being said, these results can be an underestimation of the actual figures of IPV rates as the topic is sensitive, and IPV often goes unreported by victims of violence. In 2010 the Royal Malaysian Police Force revealed statistics showing 50% of acts of violence against women in Malaysia. This was followed by a 2017 statistic comparing the number of IPV cases reported in the year 2000 and the year 2017, from 3468 cases escalating to 5513 cases. 



















Photo by Luwadlin Bosman on Unsplash

A study by Professor Dale Bagshaw from the Hawke Research Institute Centre for Peace in 2008 disclosed the prevalence of IPV in all levels of society whilst remaining largely invisible due to its sensitive nature. In Malaysia specifically, the forms of IPV recognized as the most common have been emotional or psychological violence, followed by physical and sexual violence. According to research by Hayati Kadir Shahar, the factors relevant primarily to IPV were lower levels of education, socioeconomic status and those possessing a history or current substance abuse and exposure to various other forms of abuse or violence.

So what can Malaysia do to combat the prevalent rates of IPV?

Firstly, in the case of IPV interventions, the focus should be geared towards lower socioeconomic groups, followed by children who have experienced violence at a young age. This would include institutionalised children and adolescents in an attempt to review their attitudes regarding violence and provide resources to improve their help-seeking behaviour. Furthermore, to completely prevent IPV, the promotion of healthy, respectful and non-violent relationships can prove to be effective not just in preventing IPV alone but the long effects it has on the family and community.

As policies to prevent IPV are to prevent future cases from occurring, what can we do to address the issue at hand now? Currently, Malaysia has laws in the palace to protect spouses, former spouses, children and family members as well as de-facto spouses; the act, however, unfortunately, does not preserve non-married couples. In cases of emergencies, victims of violence can apply for an Emergency Protection Order which lasts 7 days and does not require a police report to be obtained. Furthermore, victims of violence can also apply for an Interim Protection Order which can be received from the Magistrate Court and stays valid throughout the police investigation and before the case is presented in court. The IPO is then followed by a PO in the case where the perpetrator is charged during the trial and following the end of the police investigation.

All in all, IPV and violence are dire issues that need to be dealt with systemically and from the root to ensure the safety of men and women in intimate relationships.