It's called "Intimate Partner Violence" or IPV. A lover becomes an abuser.
Nearly 4 million adults in Californians report being a victim of physical or sexual violence at the hands of a spouse, companion or other intimate partner, according to a new UCLA study. And only a little more than half of victims sought outside help.
"This is often an invisible health crisis," said David Grant, study co-author and Director of UCLA's California Health Interview Survey.
Researchers found something unexpected in the survey. Violent relationships among lesbians, gays and bisexuals was surprisingly high.
"This is not a group commonly associated with violence," said the study's co-author Elaine Zahnd, sociologist and research scientist at the Public Health Institute.
Here are the numbers: Nearly 30 percent of the lesbian and gay adults surveyed reported they were abused by a partner. And they were almost twice as likely to experience violence compared to heterosexuals.
"These findings should cause us to reconsider our assumptions about the root causes of violence, even as we redouble our efforts to eradicate it," Zahnd said.
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And the gender gap continues. Women are twice as likely as men to be victims of physical violence, according to the UCLA study. And women 18 and older were eight times more likely than men to experience sexual violence. More than a million of the 4 million adults surveyed reported being forced to have sex by an intimate partner.
State-subsidized domestic violence shelters and services are threatened by budget cuts. Researchers said their study proves those safe havens are all the more essential.