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How Food Insecurity and IPV Intersect

Updated: Feb 21

Understanding the Link and Impacts on Women and Children

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (CDC, 2022), approximately 41% of women and 26% of men experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.


Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is aggression in a romantic relationship, including current and former spouses and dating partners. The range for IPV can be one episode of violence to chronic, severe incidents that include financial, physical, and psychological abuse over time. Individuals suffering physical and psychological IPV-related abuse have an increased likelihood of experiencing food insecurity (Ricks et al., 2015). Food insecurity is defined as the condition of not having access to sufficient food, or food of adequate quality, to meet one's basic needs including nutritious food that meet dietary needs physically and financially. About 10% of households are food insecure during the year, with 32% of families below the poverty line experiencing food insecurity (Martin, 2023).



Depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder are all consequences of food insecurity with Black and Hispanic women reporting higher rates of IPV and food insecurity. Women IPV survivors are more likely to experience food insecurity along with reduced mental health and financial stability due to perpetrators withholding food and resources. Furthermore, homelessness is a leading outcome of IPV with homeless persons experiencing lower rates of food security due to access and lack of resources to obtain consistent food assistance.


Poverty plays a significant role in food insecurity and rates of IPV. Black and Hispanic households comprise 20% and 16% of the incomes below the poverty line with women having a higher poverty rate. The intersection of poverty, violence, and food security speaks to how food security is not an isolated issue but coexists, highlighting the economic inequality, gender justice, and racial equity issues present.


Though there's a link between IPV and food insecurity there are social programs to support IPV survivors in obtaining food, mental health, housing, and financial services. Social programs like SNAP and WIC are federal programs geared towards providing food benefits to low-income families and pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and infants and children up to age 5 to help with their grocery budget to buy nutritious food, obtain health care referrals, and nutrition education.


Food insecurity and IPV coexist. This link causes low accessibility to food, homelessness, mental, psychological, and physical illness, perpetuating economic and financial distress. Women and children affected by IPV are at the highest risk for food insecurity. Social programs help families affected by IPV. Community-based organizations have a significant impact on IPV survivors due to their accessibility, cultural alignment, and proximity to the community. Ways to locate local supports and assistance can be found at:

  • Jersey Battered Women's Services - a hotline in New Jersey that helps IPV survivors of any status. Call: 1.877.782.2873

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline - a national hotline that will connect survivors to local resources for food assistance, health needs, and emergency financial assistance. Call: 800-799-7233

  • Partners - empowers low-income victims and survivors of domestic violence to build safe and secure futures for themselves and their children by providing equal access to justice.


References

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Preventing intimate partner violence. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/fastfact.html


Brandhorst, S., & Clark, D. L. (2022). Food security for survivors of intimate partner violence: Understanding the role of food in survivor well‐being. Health & Social Care in the Community, 30(6). https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.14064


Ricks, J. L., Cochran, S. D., Arah, O. A., Williams, J. K., & Seeman, T. E. (2015). Food insecurity and intimate partner violence against women: results from the California Women’s Health Survey. Public Health Nutrition, 19(5), 914–923. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1368980015001986



National Domestic Violence Hotline. (n.d.). Local resources for survivors. Retrieved from https://www.thehotline.org/get-help/domestic-violence-local-resources/


About the Contributor


Samone Wellington is an Intern working in the Hunger Project Program at the Coalition for Food and Health Equity. Growing up in Jersey City, her passion for food has inspired her to obtain her Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts from Hudson County Community College.


She is currently attending Montclair State University where she’ll be graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Science concentration in Food Systems. At The Coalition, she works within the Hunger Project and Eating Better Together programs supporting client services, program evaluation, and community education on health and nutrition.

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