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Intimate Partner Sexual Violence

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV) can be defined as any unwanted sexual contact or activity by an intimate partner with the purpose of controlling an individual through fear, threats or violence (Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs). IPSV leaves survivors at high risk for STIs and HIV/AIDS. Much like other forms of domestic violence, abusers use sexual assault as a tool of control and power. This increases the risk of HIV through forced sex, restricting access to condoms or intentional condom sabatoge (taking condoms off in the middle of sex, intentionally damaging condoms), forcing pregnancy and denying victims access to healthcare. More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). But because of social norms, which demand women perform “wifely duties” and “submit to their husbands," many people experiencing sexual violence in the context of a heterosexual intimate relationship may not be aware that forced sex is violence, or may be reluctant to label their partners as rapists. Additionally, due to homophobia and stigma, some LGBTQ individuals may identify rape and intimate partner violence as something that only happens within the context of heterosexual relationships, and may have difficulty naming their experience as violence. Intimate Partner Sexual Violence is associated with enduring and serious health conditions, chronic pain, severe headaches, increased rates of cervical cancer associated with HPV and increased risk of HIV (Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre). Violence impacts both the transmission of HIV and individuals’ ability to adhere to their treatment regimen.