Intimate partner violence



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Quick facts

  • One in three women and one in four men have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2022)
  • One in five women and one in 13 men experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2022)
  • Bisexual women are 1.8 times more likely to experience IPV compared with heterosexual women (Brown and Herman, 2015). 
  • Lifetime exposure to IPV among transgender people ranges from 31-50% (Brown and Herman, 2015). 
  • In the U.S., over half of female homicides result from current or former intimate partners (CDC, 2022). 
  • The risk of intimate partner homicide is 5-7 times higher when an abuser has access to a firearm (Kafka, 2021).
  • Nearly 25 million adults in the U.S. have experienced nonfatal firearm abuse (e.g., firearms employed to threaten, create fear, or cause injury) by an intimate partner (Adhia et al., 2021).


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health issue that occurs in romantic relationships between people who may or may not live together. This includes current and former romantic partners and can vary in frequency and severity. IPV can take several forms, including physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, psychological aggression, financial or economic abuse, teen dating violence, and/or domestic violence. 

National data demonstrate that IPV can begin early in life and varies from a single episode of violence to multiple experiences over many years (CDC, 2017). IPV can be perpetrated in person or electronically through mobile devices or social media. Experiencing IPV can be linked to many adverse outcomes, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased risk of alcohol and drug use, chronic pain, trouble sleeping, job instability, housing instability, and homelessness (EFSGV, 2020). Longstanding systemic and structural disadvantages also impact IPV; areas with higher rates of community violence often have more intimate partner violence rates (EFSGV, 2020).

Every person can experience and be affected by IPV, but some groups have higher rates than others. IPV is most often perpetrated against women by men (CDC, 2017). However, Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native women, people with disabilities, and those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning Plus (LGBTQ+) are at higher risk for experiencing violence from an intimate partner (CDC, 2017). Pregnancy and the post-partum period are also high-risk times for IPV (CDC, 2017). 

While not all IPV involves a weapon, nearly 65% of intimate partner homicides reported in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) were by firearm (Kafka, 2023). Less severe forms of IPV often occur before a firearm is involved. Firearms can also be used to injure or threaten intimate partners without discharging the weapon (Kafka, 2021).


The scope of the problem in Colorado 

  • In Colorado, 36.8% of women and 30.5% of men have experienced intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking (NCADV, 2020). 
  • 17.9% of firearm deaths in Colorado between 2016-2020 involved intimate partner violence (CDPHE, 2022). 
  • 15% of homicides in Colorado were committed by intimate partners (NCADV, 2020).
  • There were 91 fatalities related to domestic violence in Colorado in 2021—1.5 times higher than the previous six years (CDVFRB, 2022). Victims ranged from ages 16-91, with 7 of these fatalities involving persons under the age of 21 (CDVFRB, 2022). 
  • 81% of IPV fatalities in Colorado in 2021 were due to firearms (CDVFRB, 2022). 
  • 72% of perpetrator deaths were by suicide (CDVFRB, 2022).

Prevention approaches

IPV, and firearm IPV, are preventable. However, survivors of IPV are not to blame for the abuse or violence they experience. 

Laws requiring background checks with the purchase of firearms or restricting abusers from possessing firearms can reduce IPV fatalities. In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are 38% fewer firearm deaths of women by intimate partners (DOJ, 2011). Other civil and criminal protection orders such as Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Extreme Risk Protection Orders can also limit an IPV perpetrator’s access to firearms (Kafka, 2021; Websdale, 2019). 

Lethality Assessment Programs in Colorado provide law enforcement officers with a tool to evaluate the risk of intimate partner violence and connect individuals with advocates (CDVFRB, 2022). 

Addressing upstream factors that contribute to IPV can also bolster prevention efforts. Providing economic support for women and families, improving safety in schools, teaching teens healthy dating skills, establishing housing programs, disrupting cycles of violence, and building healthy and safe environments can reduce the risk of firearm injury and death related to IPV (CDC, 2017).



  1. Adhia, A., Lyons, V. H., Moe, C. A., Rowhani-Rahbar, A., & Rivara, F. P. (2021). Nonfatal use of firearms in intimate partner violence: Results of a national survey. Preventive medicine, 147, 106500. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106500
  2. Brown, T.N. and Herman, J., 2015. Intimate partner violence and sexual abuse among LGBT people. eScholarship, University of California. Accessed September 29, 2023. 
  3. CDC (Centers for Disease Control). 2022. Fast Facts: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence. Accessed February 7, 2023.
  4. CDC (Centers for Disease Control). 2017. Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv-technicalpackages.pdf, Accessed September 10, 2023.
  5. CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment). 2022. Firearm Deaths in Colorado 2016-2021. Retrieved from https://cdphe.colorado.gov/sites/cdphe/files/documents/Firearm%20Deaths…. Accessed September 28, 2023. 
  6. CDVFRB (Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board). 2022. Annual Report. https://coag.gov/app/uploads/2023/01/2022-Domestic-Violence-Fatality-Re…. Accessed September 29, 2023. 
  7. DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice), Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2011 Supplementary Homicide Reports. Accessed February 7, 2023.
  8. EFSGV (The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence). 2021. Domestic Violence and Firearms. Accessed September 10, 2023.
  9. Kafka, J.M., Moracco, K.E., Graham, L.M., AbiNader, M.A., Fliss, M.D. and Rowhani-Rahbar, A., 2023. Intimate partner violence circumstances for fatal violence in the US. JAMA Network Open, 6(5), pp.e2312768-e2312768.
  10. Kafka, J.M., Moracco, K.E., Williams, D.S. and Hoffman, C.G., 2021. What is the role of firearms in nonfatal intimate partner violence? Findings from civil protective order case data. Social Science & Medicine, 283, p.114212.
  11. NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). 2020. Domestic violence in Colorado
  12. Websdale N., Ferraro K., and Barger, S.D. 2019. The domestic violence fatality review clearinghouse: introduction to a new National Data System with a focus on firearms. Injury epidemiology, 6:1-8.