What is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate partner violence or domestic violence occurs when one partner in a close relationship exerts a disproportionate amount of control over their partner. It is a purposeful and continuous effort of one person exerting power and control. Perpetrators can be men or women who are either current or former partners. Any form of abuse should be taken seriously and is cause to seek help.

Types of Intimate Partner Violence


Intimidation tactics like threatening looks or displaying weapons, stalking, threats (towards the victim, self, loved ones or pets), blaming the victim for abusive behavior or denying it altogether, and isolation from friends, family and support systems are common forms of how an abuser can wield psychological power and control in an intimate relationship.


Undermining somebody’s sense of worth through name calling, humiliation, guilt tripping, as well as, controlling what someone does, who they talk to or what they read can be used to exert power.


This form of abuse can be far ranging including immediate financial problems to long-term credit rating implications. This can include taking control of all money, making the victim financially dependent on the abuser, and sabotaging their ability to get or keep a job. This also includes taking out loans or accumulating credit card debt in the victim’s name without consent.


An abuser can manipulate their victim through the misuse of religious or spiritual beliefs.


This can take the form of slapping, punching, choking, kicking or any other physical contact that causes bodily harm. It also includes non-contact physical abuse such as withholding food, water, medication or medical care. Locking someone in a hot closet or outside during a snow storm are also examples of physical abuse.


Rape, sexual assault, as well as coercion to perform sexual acts or sext, making contraceptive decisions, forcing pregnancy or termination are all examples of sexual violence.


This is the misrepresentation, lying or threat of lying to a legal entity like law enforcement, lawyers or courts, to establish control over the situation and the abused.

What intimate partner violence is not

Intimate partner violence is purposeful and calculated as opposed to impulsive acts of abuse that result from anger management or mental health issues. These two conditions can co-exist with intimate partner violence, but they are not a justification.

Alcohol or substance use is an excuse used as a psychological abuse technique to deflect responsibility and even justify the abuser’s behavior.

Problematic or troubled relationships are not an invitation or justification for any form of abuse.

As outlined above, intimate partner abuse is not limited to physical violence. It is common for victims to not seek help or even be discouraged by others if they are not physically abused. Someone experiencing intimate partner violence should seek assistance with or without the presence of physical violence.

Scope of the problem

According to the CDC, one in four women and one in ten men experience sexual and/or physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime. More than 43 million women and 38 million men report having experienced psychological intimate partner violence. According to an article in the Springfield News Leader, in 2021, the rate of domestic violence incidents in Springfield was more than twice what it was in the state of Missouri as a whole.

It can be difficult to extricate yourself from intimate partner violence but knowing what it looks like is the first step to getting help. And we and our partners are always here to help when you’re ready.


The Greene County Family Justice Center is a non-profit collaborative of local agencies offering comprehensive services to survivors of domestic, sexual, and family violence. Our services are trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and we welcome survivors at any point in their process. We partner with local non-profit service providers as well as local law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s office, and Children’s Division to make victim services more accessible and completely voluntary. If you do not want to participate in the criminal justice process, we support you.

Our vision is a future where we all work together to meet the needs of domestic violence and human trafficking survivors through comprehensive and accessible services, education and perpetrator accountability. Through a coordinated framework and co-located response, we strive to break the vicious generational cycle and community impact of domestic violence and resulting victimizations.

We can help you plan for your safety whether you plan to stay in the relationship, or you are actively trying to escape. All of our services are free, confidential and survivor centered. Have questions about what services are available? Visit us at 1418 E. Pythian Street or give us a call at 417-874-2600. We are open 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. For after-hours assistance, call the Harmony House/Victim Center’s 24-hour safe line at 417-864-SAFE (7233). If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.