According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men are victims of violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence (IPV) transcends all races, socioeconomic classes, gender and sexual identities.

Among these statistics are mid-life women, who are often unintentionally forgotten by their health care providers because the emphasis of IPV screening is directed more toward the reproductive-age woman. But the fact is, IPV has impacted 1/3 of mid-life women in their lifetime and within the last year, 5.6 million mid-life women have reported IPV and that is just what is reported. It is staggering to think of what the real statistics are.

It is well-known that Peri-menopausal / menopausal women are at particularly high risk of becoming victims of violence. The changes that accompany this mid-life transition also bring with it higher rates of depression and anxiety, relationship strain due to changes in libido and sexual function, life stressors when children leave the home and caring for aging parents. Selene Yeager wrote an amazing piece on depression, suicide and suffering in silence.

https://www.feistymenopause.com/blog/mentalhealthandmenopause

These issues go hand in hand – because depression is a major risk factor for becoming a victim of IPV.

As fitness professionals and coaches, we have a unique opportunity to make a dent in these statistics – even more so than the medical community, where we see our providers maybe once a year, every 5 years or even longer. As Coaches, we are in contact with our clients weekly, sometimes daily. The continuity and the trust built in the Coach-Client relationship creates a unique opportunity to provide an avenue for help for victims of IPV, which could be life-saving.
If you are a Coach you may be thinking “I want to help but I don’t know how… I’m not trained to do this… what if I say the wrong thing?” It’s scary for all of us – even those of us who are trained. It’s never easy. But all it takes is an ear to listen, compassion and empathy –knowing that someone close to you could be suffering in silence. Below are links to resources used in the medical community to help identify the signs that someone close to you (personally or professionally) may be a victim of IPV, and a national hotline is available to get help.

If you are reading this and you are someone who does not feel safe in your relationship, you are not alone. You don’t deserve this. It’s not your fault. There is an unstoppable army of women, Coaches and professionals behind you ready to help. No one deserves to suffer in silence and everyone deserves to be safe. If you are a health care provider or Coach, this is an opportunity to make a potentially life-saving difference in your clients’ lives. For resources for immediate help and for tools that can help you recognize the signs of IPV, see below.

Thanks so much for reading! Be well and have a wonderful holiday season!

National DV hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/
Friends and Family Guide: How to help someone in an abusive relationship: https://wscadv.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Friends-and-Family-Guide-2021.pdf
Intimate Partner Violence Screening tools for Health Care Providers: https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/prevention-chronic-care/healthier-pregnancy/documents/intimate-partner-violence-provider-fact-sheet.pdf

If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.