In the US, 36% of women and 29% of men have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. Research suggests that veterans may be at greater risk for intimate partner violence than civilian counterparts, given the unique stressors posed by military life, such as military deployments that result in family separation, reintegration issues, and combat-related health issues, including PTSD and TBI. According to the VA’s Domestic Violence Task Force, the overall 12-month prevalence of inmate partner violence (IPV) perpetration among active duty service members was 22%, and victimization was 30%.
To help address this problem, the VA launched the IPV Assistance Program in 2014 and has since established coordinators at more than 115 facilities. The program coordinators use resources from mental health, primary care, women’s health, veterans’ justice outreach, and employee occupational health and assistance programs. The program also offers intervention through VA and community partnerships that address housing, education, and employment needs.
The program takes a holistic approach, focusing on developing a culture of safety, the VA says, with the goal of understanding, recognizing and responding to the effects of all types of trauma, including physical, sexual, and psychological. “We are giving careful attention to this program,” says Acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke, “ensuring it is integrated into clinical care and workplace safety.”