By N. Büşra Akçabozan, See the Triumph International Ambassador
What is intimate partner violence?
The definition of intimate partner violence (IPV) should be clear in our minds. 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 can be a spouse or a partner with whom you have been dating, cohabiting, having a sexual relationship, and/or sharing an emotional connectedness. As the description indicates, there are various types of IPV, although you might first think of ‘physical violence’. However, there are other types of IPV, which include: sexual violence (sexual acts committed against the victim without his/her freely given consent), stalking (repeated and unwanted behaviors and attitudes toward the victim who does not want to be exposed to, e.g., unwanted phone calls, emails, following, sneaking into the victim’s home, school, workplace and making threats etc.), and psychological aggression (harming and/or controlling the victim emotionally and psychologically, such as humiliating, excessive monitoring, and limiting behaviors).
Have you ever thought of these types as types of IPV before? According to my observation and research, primarily physical violence followed by sexual violence has attracted attention in Turkish culture (in the literature, in daily life, and the news); however, stalking and psychological aggression have recently become a current issue.
What is important for people to know about IPV that occurs in Turkey?
Both in Turkey and across the globe, we know that women are at a significantly greater risk of IPV than men. According to 2014 statistics in Turkey (Ministry of Family and Social Policies, 2015), 4 out of every 10 women have been physically abused in Turkey. Among them, three fourths have been abused by their spouse. Most women who were victims of murder were murdered by their spouses. In general, sexual violence occurs with physical violence; 12% of women reported sexual partner violence, and 27% of women reported both physical and sexual partner violence. In terms of psychological violence, 44% of women reported that they have been psychologically abused by their partners for any period of time. All across Turkey, approximately 3 out of every 10 women have been stalked insistently. The health of Turkish women impacted by IPV has been affected in a negative way as a consequence of physical and/or sexual abuse.
Some people believe in myths about IPV, such as “IPV occurs only between people who are not well educated” and/or “who are living in rural areas.” However, these myths are NOT TRUE. The percentage of physical violence in rural areas was 43%; however, in urban areas this percentage was high as well at 38%. Further, among women who are highly educated, 3 out of every 10 women reported being physically or sexually abused by their partners. Hence, based on the statistics, women in different age groups, educational levels, and socio-economic statuses are all under threat. 48.5% of women indicated that they could not tell anyone about the violence they were exposed to, and only 11% of women informed government agencies, which means that women have been struggling with violence ALONE.
What can we learn from these numbers and percentages? Unfortunately, these numbers and percentages reveal how frequently IPV occurs and how lonely the victims of IPV are in Turkey; however, we know that the story is not much different across the globe. This information is important for us to be aware of the situation in Turkey in terms of IPV and to question ourselves, our partners, and our culture.
We are NOT culture-free; however, we can be aware of the cultural and social norms we have been taught since we were born. For instance, I sometimes observe that individuals try to legitimize and justify IPV in their daily conversations, attitudes, behaviors, especially when it is used by men. This also happen in school systems, in the media, and even in the courts. We have to object to any behavior that encourages IPV violence and any excusive attitudes toward violent acts. We need to encourage survivors to tell their stories and be there for them to help them overcome the partner violence they were exposed to. We should develop supportive environments, provide more resources for victims of IPV, and start raising awareness about the importance of this issue, first in our own culture and then around the world.
We should remember that every person around the world deserves to have a functional, nonviolent, and healthy relationship!
Ministry of Family and Social Policies (2014). Summary report of the research of domestic violence against women in Turkey (Türkiye’de Kadına Yönelik Aile İçi Şiddet Araştırması). Retrieved from http://www.hips.hacettepe.edu.tr/KKSA-TRAnaRaporKitap26Mart.pdf