Intimate partner sexual abuse (IPSA) is an often-overlooked aspect of domestic violence cases. IPSA encompasses a continuum of behaviors—from verbal degradation to felony-level sexual abuse and torture. Domestic violence and sexual assault are often treated as distinct forms of violence running parallel but never intersecting, when in reality many abusers perpetrate both. Marital rape was not considered a crime in the United States until recently. The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) works to ensure that victims of IPSA are identified and receive the additional protection and services they need. Forced sex in the domestic violence context is a red flag for increasing violence and potential lethality for the victim and her children.
IPSA is an important factor in risk assessment; in decision-making in civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate cases; and in custody and visitation determinations. Thus, it is important for the justice system to have strategies that encourage victims to disclose such abuse and resources for effective offender dispositions and management. This website provides current interdisciplinary research from law, medicine and the social sciences that is applicable to judicial decision-making and case management. Find out more about the webcourse by accessing our IPSA Module Guide.