I recently wrote about our culture’s tech dependency and mentioned intimate partner violence (IPV).  IPV encompasses physical, emotional, psychological and sexual behaviour towards a romantic partner that is aggressive, controlling and coercive.  IPV has been found to increasingly occur online – but regardless of the medium or form of IPV, all abuse results in damage.

IPV can be bidirectional, meaning both partners in the relationship may be victim and perpetrator. This can cause aggression to be more severe and dangerous. Strauss (2004) found that in adults aged 18-25, females were more likely to perpetrate violence towards male partners and this was more likely to result in a significant injury, yet the research also suggests that females are more likely than males to be victims of all forms of cyber IPV (Zweig, Dank, Yahner, & Lachman, 2013).

It’s obviously complex and has inter-dependency factors. It can be responsive to family of origin, the developmental environmental characteristics of an individual, contextual factors influencing behaviour, and intimate relationship influences (Kim, Shortt, Tiberio, & Capaldi, 2015).

Exposure to coercive and aggressive behaviour in family relationship experiences is a risk factor as it encourages violence as a successful tool in relationships and problem solving (Kim, Shortt, Tiberio, & Capaldi, 2015). Similarly, environmental factors play a key role including association with antisocial or delinquent peers as a risk factor for IPV. Association with delinquent peers reinforces coercion learnt in family systems and high prevalence of rule breaking and negative aggressive talk to women (Kim, Shortt, Tiberio, & Capaldi, 2015).

A controversial trigger is the role of alcohol which will be discussed in a later article.

This article only scratches the surface in exploring the developmental and environmental factors that contribute to IPV, and it indicates the importance of our family of origin and contextual influences.

Please get in touch if this article resonates with you in light of your own situation.


Kim, H. K., Shortt, J. W., Tiberio, S. S., & Capaldi, D. M. (2015). Aggression and Coercive Behaviors in Early Adult Relationships: Findingsfrom the Oregon Youth Study–Couples Study. In T. J. Dishion, & J. Snyder (Eds.), Handbook of Coercive Relationship Dynamics (pp. 1-15). Oxford University.

Slotter, E. B., & Finkel, E. J. (2011). I3 theory: Instigating, impelling, and inhibiting factors in aggression. In Herzilya series on personality and social psychology. Human aggression and violence: Causes, manifestations, and consequences (pp. 35-52). American Psychological Association.

Straus, M. (2004). Prevalence of Violence Against Dating Partners by Male and Female University Students Worldwide. Violence Against Women, 10(7), :790-811.

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash.

Disclaimer: This article contains the views of the author and is not a replacement for therapeutic support. Please reach out to a registered therapist if you are experiencing distress and require assistance.