Interpersonal Violence

Interpersonal violence
APA takes a public health approach to violence prevention advocacy, using psychological research to inform policies and programs.

Prevention and Support

Working with our members and partner organizations, we advocate for funding and support for victim services, research, and implementation of evidence-based approaches to violence prevention. APA advocates in the following areas of interpersonal violence prevention:
Deportation's impact on kids

Youth Violence

APA advocates for policies that support social and emotional learning in schools and prevent bullying.

Domestic violence

Domestic and Sexual Violence

APA advocates for research and prevention, plus full funding of the Violence Against Women Act to ensure that all survivors receive the services they need.

Child Maltreatment and Child Welfare

Community Violence

APA supports school- and community-based violence prevention strategies and coordination among community leaders, law enforcement and individuals.

International Violence Prevention

International Violence Prevention

APA advocates for policies that protect and support human trafficking survivors and prevent mass atrocities.  

Understanding Interpersonal Violence

1,580

In 2014, an estimated 1,580 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States.

One in three

One in three women will experience rape, physical violence or stalking in her lifetime. Individuals with disabilities, people of color and non-gender conforming individuals have a heightened risk of domestic and sexual abuse.

Psychologists Take to the Hill to Support the Violence Against Women Act

On April 6, 2017, APA's Public Interest Government Relations Office held an advocacy training and Capitol Hill day for participants in the Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP). Forty psychologists provided congressional offices with information on programs under the Violence Against Women Act that target underserved populations. They requested full funding for those programs. Participants discussed how the risk of domestic violence and sexual violence is higher for women of color, women with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, older adults and other marginalized populations. 

The enthusiastic responses from congressional staff underscored the importance of psychologists coming to the table to help policymakers understand the unique needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Sen. Claire McCaskill meets with APA members Constance Brooks, PhD, (left) and Johanna Nilsson, PhD (right).

Sen. Claire McCaskill meets with APA members Constance Brooks, PhD, (left) and Johanna Nilsson, PhD (right).

play pause
Stepping stones to improving interpersonal violence

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APA Actions Related to Interpersonal Violence

June 2017

Atrocity Prevention Legislation, Utilizing Social Science, Praised by APA

APA continued its advocacy for human rights issues by submitting a June 8, 2017, letter of support (PDF, 35KB) for the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (S. 1158), introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Thom Tillis R-N.C. 

Consistent with APA’s Resolution Against Genocide (PDF, 78KB), the act would enhance U.S. capacity to prevent and mitigate mass atrocities, as both a national security interest and a core moral responsibility. APA particularly praised a provision mandating the training of foreign service officers with the skills to recognize and prevent genocide, and emphasized the social science research on early warning signs.

August 2016

APA Staff Discuss the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Gun Violence

APA senior legislative and federal affairs officer Amalia Corby discussed the potential of federal legislation to impact domestic violence and gun violence at APA’s 2016 Convention in Denver, with Clinton Anderson, PhD, Robert Kinscherff, PhD, Rita Smith, and April Zeoli, PhD. 

Panelists discussed the intersection of different types of violence and presented an analysis of the impact of state polices on domestic violence and gun violence prevention efforts. 

The symposium aimed to educate attendees and to present opportunities for engagement in advocacy. This discussion was an extension of APA’s continued efforts to reduce violence using a public health approach.

June 2016

APA Submits Comments on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse of Elderly and Vulnerable Adults Screening Research Plan

In June 2016, APA Government Relations, this APA Committee on Aging and the APA Practice Organization jointly submitted comments to a call from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on the Draft Research Plan for the Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse of Elderly and Vulnerable Adults: Screening. Overall, APA submitted suggestions that will help to focus the report on high-need groups within populations affected by intimate partner violence (IPV) and abuse. Some of the comments included:

  • Clarification of the term "vulnerable adult".
  • Consideration of the limitations of IPV or abuse screening tools, especially when used in diverse populations.
  • Recognition of caregivers as supporters of older individuals who are victims of abuse, but also as potential perpetrators of IPV and/or abuse.
  • The inclusion of abuse and/or neglect screening evaluations in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and assisted living facilities.
April 2016

Psychologists Take to the Hill to Support the Violence Against Women Act

On April 6, 2017, APA held an advocacy training and Capitol Hill day for participants in the Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP). Forty psychologists provided congressional offices with information on programs under the Violence Against Women Act that target underserved populations, and requested full funding for those programs. Participants discussed how the risk of domestic violence and sexual violence is higher for women of color, women with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, older adults and other marginalized populations.

The enthusiastic responses from congressional staff underscored the importance of psychologists coming to the table to help policymakers understand the unique needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 


March 2015

Psychologists Take to the Hill to Support Trafficking Legislation

On March 25, 2015, APA held an advocacy training and Capitol Hill day for Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP) participants. Forty-one psychologists provided 39 congressional offices — including meetings with four members — with the executive summary of the APA Report of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls and advocated passage of trafficking legislation, such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S. 262). 

The enthusiastic responses from members of Congress and their staff underscored the importance of psychologists coming to the table to help policymakers understand the psychological sequelae of trafficking and intervention strategies to protect vulnerable populations from becoming victims. Released in 2014, the timing of the task force report coincided with increased congressional interest in this growing problem. Critically, this report makes recommendations to advance research, education and training, advocacy and public policy, public awareness, and practice, as they pertain to the intersections of psychology and the problem of human trafficking. As noted by the task force, U.S. citizens both fall victim to and perpetrate trafficking within the United States and abroad; the majority of individuals identified as trafficked in the U.S. for labor or commercial sex are women and girls.

May 2014

APA Applauds Efforts Around Bill to Address Law Enforcement, Mental Health Systems Response to Violence

APA sent a May 28, 2014, letter (PDF, 119KB) to Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., commending their efforts around introduction of the Promoting Healthy Minds for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 4783). 

This legislation seeks to improve the law enforcement and mental health system response to violent incidents and to affirm the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out gun violence prevention research. APA consulted with these offices during drafting of the bill and will continue to advocate for sound policies based on the best available science.

May 2014

APA Supports Key Legislation to Reduce International Violence Against Women

Spurred by international concern over the abduction of nearly 300 school girls in Nigeria, APA mobilized its Federal Action Network to support the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA, H.R. 3571/S. 2307) and submitted letters of support for the bills (PDF, 34KB) to all members of Congress. IVAWA requires the U.S. government to implement a long-term global strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. This legislation would also streamline U.S. global gender-based violence prevention efforts, and support evidence-based training, psychosocial assistance, and trauma-informed services for international domestic and sexual violence survivors.

This effort coincides with additional APA actions on the Boko Haram kidnappings and builds on the association’s strong commitment to human rights, the protection of youth, and working to prevent and intervene in interpersonal violence. 

September 2014

APA Applauds Efforts to Bolster Mental Health Systems' Response to Violence

APA sent a Sept. 16, 2014, letter (PDF, 29KB) to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., supporting his efforts to improve the mental health systems' response to violent incidents with his introduction of the Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act (S. 2872). Among many provisions, the bill seeks to support individuals in crisis and to affirm the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out gun violence prevention research. APA maintains a strong commitment to gun violence prevention and violence prevention research. For more information on APA's approach to preventing gun violence, see the 2013 report “Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy.”

Interpersonal Violence occurs across age, ethnic, gender and economic lines, among persons with disabilities, and among heterosexual and same-sex couples.

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Amalia Corby
Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer

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About APA Advocacy

APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities. 

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