What Constitutes Intimate Partner Violence?
According to the Center for Disease Control -“The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.” (2014) http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intatepartnerviolence/index.html
In the past I associated intimate partner violence with physical violence, threats of violence or harm and overt forms of psychological violence and used this as a guiding principal to define intimate partner violence. More recently I began asking the following questions as they may or may not relate to intimate partner violence.
Fear of disclosure resulting in isolation, lack of intimacy and sex or no sex and intimacy. Is this IPV?
Risking criminal prosecution for non-disclosure of one’s HIV status. Is this IPV?
The ongoing process of weeding out people living with HIV on dating sites. Is this IPV?
Disclosing one’s status to a potential sex partner, being rejected because of it, then hearing from others how that same potential sex partner took it upon themselves to inform others in a social setting, as a safety precaution you understand! Is that IPV?
Weeding out or prioritizing based on the length of time one has lived with the virus on dating sites for people living with HIV. Is this IPV?
Compromising oneself in selecting and keeping a partner because the partner tolerates one’s HIV status? Is this IPV?
Being asked to “invent” information about oneself or voluntarily “inventing” information about oneself to protect a sex partner from peer pressure about their choice in “perceived risky” sex partners. Is this IPV?
Remaining silent to keep the peace while a friend explains one’s career at the moment which refers to their work many years ago with no mention of the current work they do within the HIV community. A form of rewriting history to suit their needs and block the topic of HIV. In a convoluted sort of way is this IPV? The CDC definition does state that sexual intimacy is not necessarily required.
Accepting request/condition that the topic of HIV never be discussed in a relationship. Is this IPV?
Blocking someone after they disclose their HIV status on a dating site. Is this IPV?
Identifying reason for lack of commitment in a relationship as being one’s HIV status. Because, after all, we just do not know what the future holds with this virus. Is this IPV?
Settling for a less than satisfactory sex life with restricted pleasurable activities. Is this IPV?
Having a potential sex partner show interest and then suddenly stop mid way as they have learned you are HIV positive by a colleague in the room. Is this potential IPV?
Resigning oneself to a life of celibacy as it is safer than dealing with disclosure complexities and pretending this life choice makes one happy and content. Stating this is a voluntary decision because sex and intimacy is no longer essential, rather than examining factors contributing to this decision. Is this IPV?
For the longest time as I empathized and stood in solidarity with comrades who are or were at one time involved in intimate partner violence, by definition, I believed I had not been directly affected. Because the intimate partner violence I experienced was more subtle, not fitting a formal definition, in a more middle class, sophisticated, pseudo- civilized form. Silly me.
I was able to discuss, with no resolution, the topic of fidelity and did not have much luck in negotiating condom use.My ability to leave unhealthy relationships, based on the questions posed above, was no different than that of a person who experiences covert intimate partner violence. If we put all of these more subtle forms of intimate partner violence in perspective and examine the effects they have on individuals over a prolonged period of time, will they be just as damaging to one’s well being? It is time for me to redefine my own perceptions of intimate partner violence.