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Partner violence: Adopting a public health approach to addressing the problem

02 August 2020
10 min read
Volume 1 · Issue 4


Adolescence is an exciting, critical period of development, where young people develop a sense of self, new peer and romantic relationships and have an opportunity to explore a range of new experiences. However, due to the enormity of biological, psychological, sociological and environmental changes that occur during this stage of life, young people are also vulnerable to a range of risks, one of which is intimate partner violence. Due to the lack of research on experiences of violence in adolescent intimate partner relationships, there is limited awareness and recognition of this abuse in young people, so they are often silent victims. Therefore, the aim of this article is to provide a narrative review of adolescent intimate partner violence, and to highlight the importance of adopting a public health approach, which involves transdisciplinary working to deliver primary, secondary and tertiary preventative interventions to address this hidden issue.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS, 2019) has estimated that there were 2.4 million victims of domestic violence aged between 16 and 74 years (1.6 million women and 786 000 men) up to the year ending March 2019. The effects of domestic violence can have a huge impact upon an individual's behavioural and psychological health, such as; ‘substance misuse, depression, suicidality, eating disorders and the development of a combination of mental health disorders’ (Barter and Stanley, 2016: 5). Furthermore, this abuse has an ‘estimated cost of £66 billion in England and Wales, the majority of which (£47 billion) is due to both physical and emotional harms (such as anxiety and depression) incurred by victims (specifically emotional harm such as anxiety and depression), and an estimated cost of 1.3 billion per year to the police and 2.3 billion to the National Health Service, with the remainder cost to the economy due to lost output and reduced productivity at work’ (Rhys et al, 2019: 6).

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