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Intimate Partner Violence and Pregnancy

According to the NCADV, murder is the second most common cause of injury-related death for pregnant women. What should be a joyous time can turn into an extremely dangerous one when your partner is violent.

Why is pregnancy such a dangerous time?

Intimate partner violence is about power and control, and if the abusive partner feels like they aren’t the center of their victim’s life they can become jealous. They may try to control fertility through reproductive coercion by tampering with birth control, threats of physical violence, or emotionally coercing their partner into a pregnancy. In some cases, a woman may be forced to have or to not have an abortion against her will. Abusers will often use children as a way to make their partners stay, so forcing someone into a pregnancy gives them an additional means of control and makes it harder to leave.

In a recent study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers found that women who are experiencing abuse are also twice as likely to give birth to a low birthweight or premature baby.

What can you do?
If you are experiencing violence the best thing to do is learn about resources in your community. Domestic violence victim advocates work to assist people to create safety plans whether they are ready to leave a relationship or not. Having the tools to stay as safe as possible can make a difference for both mothers and their unborn babies.

What if you aren’t experiencing violence and you just want to help others who are? Encourage your primary care physician and gynecologist to screen for intimate partner violence during regular check ups. If they aren’t sure how to get started, DVN offers no-cost training to medical professionals on how to screen and refer patients who are in danger. To learn more, visit our workplace resources page at https://dvnconnect.org/resources/.