What is Interpersonal Violence and Is it Happening Here?

Interpersonal violence (IPV) refers to any violent act by a person or persons against another, including physical assault, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. IPV is rooted in power and control. IPV affects people of all identities and backgrounds, but people in marginalized communities face unique barriers to accessing/receiving support.

By Cara Mackler

At The Center for Empowerment and Education, we provide confidential, no-cost support services in the form of counseling and advocacy, crisis intervention, and emergency shelter, in addition to prevention education, outreach, and training in our 11-town catchment area, which includes Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, and Sherman. But how common is IPV in these communities? 

In this past fiscal year, we provided services to over 5,000 individuals in our catchment area, most of whom received services related to domestic violence. 

Now, let’s break down the definitions of each type of IPV.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic or dating abuse is the intentional use of a pattern of destructive behaviors by one person to exert power and control over their dating partner or spouse. Domestic violence can include many different types of abuse, including physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, technological, financial, cultural, and/or verbal. Assaulting, threatening, or stalking an intimate partner is a crime in Connecticut. Family violence and elder abuse are also forms of domestic violence, including family members or caregivers that are not spouses.

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is an umbrella term for any unwanted sexual activity perpetrated against someone’s will and/or without their consent. This includes rape, unwanted sexual contact on an intimate part of the body, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, exposure to explicit material or body parts, voyeurism, non-consensual image sharing, and sexual exploitation.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor, services, or commercial sex act where anything of value is being exchanged. It is important to remember that if a minor is engaging in, or has attempted to engage in, any form of commercial sex - including survival sex - this meets the legal definition of human trafficking, regardless of whether there is a third-party trafficker.

What is Stalking?

Stalking is when someone knowingly engages in behaviors/activities directed at a specific person that would cause a “reasonable person” to fear for their physical safety, or the physical safety of a third person, or suffer emotional distress. This can include tracking location, sending unwanted gifts, unwanted repeated contact, and more.

If you are interested in scheduling an education program on any of the above topics for your child’s school, a youth organization, or professional training at your local business or organization, you can fill out our form at https://thecenterct.org/connect-form/ 

As always, we want to remind our community that we are here. If you or someone you know needs support, our no-cost confidential hotlines are available 24/7.

24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline (203)731-5206

24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline (203)731-5204

Cara Mackler is the Director of Community Impact at The Center for Empowerment & Education.