Interpersonal violence is defined by the World Health Organization as any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to those in the relationship. Violence is considered the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actually, against another person that results in a high likelihood of resulting in injury and/or psychological harm or death.
Interpersonal violence can be perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner, an acquaintance, or a stranger, though the latter occurs the least frequently. Though the majority of cases involve men perpetrating violence against women, we know that interpersonal violence occurs in same-sex relationships and that women can perpetrate violence against men in different-sex relationships.
When we talk about interpersonal violence (IPV) at UNC-Chapel Hill, we focus on the areas that affect Tar Heels the most: sexual assault, abusive relationships, and stalking. We refer to people who have experienced interpersonal violence as victims but also survivors – and we prefer the word “survivor” because someone who has experienced IPV has survived a difficult and likely traumatic life experience. Most people do not like to think of themselves as victims in any way, and it can be empowering for someone to refer to themselves as a survivor instead. To learn more about language we use on this site, check out the Common Terms page.
If you’d like information outside of this website, the Carolina Women’s Center maintains interpersonal violence resources (books, DVDs, etc) here. The Carolina Women’s Center also maintains a webpage about Human Trafficking. When force, fraud, or coercion (emotional abuse) is used to compel labor, there may be a case of human trafficking. Sexual violence is often used as a coercion or control mechanism for victims of human trafficking and many individuals (primarily, but not exclusively, women and children) are forced into commercial sexual exploitation on a daily basis.
As reported on anonymous surveys, within the last 12 months UNC students experienced:
Stalking at rates of 4.7% (males) and 6.5% (females) (ACHA-NCHA Fall 2008)
About 14% of UNC female students self-report on anonymous surveys that they have experienced sexual assault before coming to college. 20% have experienced unwanted touching, sexual assault, rape or attempted rape since coming to UNC (Sandra Martin, PhD, Campus Sexual Assault, 2005 ). Male students self-report experiencing sexual violence ranging from 1% to 9.72% (ACHA-NCHA Spring 2010 and IPRV survey, Spring 2010).
As a result of their own alcohol use, .2% of first-year UNC men & .3% of first-year UNC women in Fall 2009 and .7% of first-year men & .3% of first-year women in Spring 2010 admitted having sex without getting their sexual partner’s consent in the past 12 months (CORE, Spring 2010).