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Intimate Partner Violence-Pregnancy

October is domestic violence awareness month and because I’m a victim advocate I would like to shed some light on the crime because it is truly a crime to abuse anyone but women who are pregnant are in greater danger.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Intimate partner violence is a complex form of violence that includes psychological, physical and sexual components. It is characterized by harm to an individual caused by the behaviors or actions of a current or former intimate partner. Intimate partner violence can lead to lasting physical and mental health issues, and even death. Over half of all female homicides are related to intimate partner violence, and of all women who are killed by an intimate partner, approximately 10 percent had experienced violence in the month preceding their death.

In addition to the woman’s physical health, violence during pregnancy can affect infant health, especially when violent acts target the woman’s abdomen.

Estimates of intimate partner violence during pregnancy vary depending on the definition of abuse and the population being studied. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau reported that from 2009 to 2010, approximately 4 percent of women with a recent live birth in a 30-state area reported that they had been pushed, hit, slapped, kicked, choked or physically hurt in some way by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to becoming pregnant. About 3 percent reported experiencing this type of abuse during their most recent pregnancy. Unfortunately, the true prevalence is likely underestimated due to a reluctance of women to disclose intimate partner violence, especially during pregnancy.

Effects of intimate partner violence on pregnant women may include:

  • Severe nausea, vomiting and/or dehydration
  • Kidney, urinary tract, cervical and uterine infections
  • Exacerbation of existing medical conditions, such as diabetes
  • Engagement in negative health behaviors during pregnancy, such as alcohol and/or drug use, smoking and delaying prenatal care
  • Insufficient weight gain during pregnancy
  • Increased risk of vaginal bleeding, miscarriage, preterm labor and/or preterm birth
  • Negative effects on the infant, including low birthweight, fetal injury, stillbirth and lack of emotional attachment to the child
  • Depression and suicide

WHO IS AFFECTED?

Intimate partner violence often escalates, which makes occurrence of prior intimate partner violence a risk factor for more severe injury and death. Other risk factors include conflict or economic stress within a relationship and male dominance in the family. While it is unclear if pregnancy itself is a risk factor for intimate partner violence, it is clear that pregnancy does not prevent intimate partner violence.

Populations of women disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence during pregnancy include:

For more information on this report visit https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/health-of-women-and-children/measure/ipv/state/ALL

If your in an abusive relationship and ready to get out contact 800.799.SAFE (7233).