Safety

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Help

If you are experiencing abuse or know someone who is, you can reach a domestic violence advocate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, confidentially, at The National Domestic Violence Hotline800-799-SAFE.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has safety planning for you.

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Facts

According to the National Institutes of Health, intimate partner violence (IPV), or domestic violence, affects as many as 300,000 pregnant women every year in the U.S. from every age group, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic level and educational background. And that number is thought to be significantly higher because most incidents of IPV are never reported, according to CDC research. IPV can come from either current or former spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends and doesn’t only include physical abuse, but can also be sexual, psychological or emotional in nature.

The following facts are from DomesticShelters.org “When Pregnancy Triggers Violence”

Life Endangerment

  • IPV during pregnancy has been found to lead to higher rates of preterm labor and low birth weight, as well as higher rates of miscarriage and abortion.
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that roughly 25 percent of women who are being physically or sexually abused by their partners also report reproductive coercion, or being forced to become pregnant. Read more about that in this DomesticShelters.org article, “He’s Forcing Me to Get Pregnant.
  • WHO also reports that IPV during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of intimate partner homicide. In other words, partners who batter pregnant women are often particularly more dangerous and more likely to kill their partners.
  • Homicide was found to be the second-leading cause of injury-related death for pregnant women, after car accidents, in a study by the National Institutes of Health. The NCADVfound that between 1990 and 2004, 1,300 pregnant women in the U.S. were murdered, with 56 percent being shot to death (the rest were stabbed or strangled). More than two-thirds were killed during their first trimester.

 

Health & Support

  • Studies show IPV increases the risk factor for delayed prenatal care, possibly because abusive partners are preventing women from leaving their home, or because a woman is missing appointments because of injuries or fear of abuse being discovered because of evidence of injuries, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • IPV increases behavioral risk factors in pregnant women, such as smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, possibly because these are coping mechanisms for survivors.
  • WHO reports that physical, sexual and psychological violence during pregnancy is associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress in expecting women. Survivors also report more frequent problems bonding with their babies and have lower rates of breastfeeding.
  • The majority of women who experience physical violence during pregnancy have been battered by their partner before, according to WHO.
  • During one survey, only 18 percent of pregnant women seen at an urgent care triage center were asked by the physician about intimate partner violence.

 

Teens

  • The NCADV also found that 26 percent of pregnant teens in the U.S. reported being battered by their boyfriends. Approximately half reported that the abuse began or intensified when the teens found out they were pregnant.

 

Safety Planning when Pregnant

From National Domestic Violence Path to Safety when Pregnant

Pregnancy is a time of change. Pregnancy can be full of excitement but also comes with an added need for support. It’s natural to need emotional support from a partner, as well as perhaps financial assistance, help to prepare for the baby and more.

If your partner is emotionally or physically abusive toward you, it can make these months of transition especially difficult. Thankfully, there are resources available to help expecting women get the support needed for a safe, healthy pregnancy.

According to the CDC, intimate partner violence affects approximately 1.5 million women each year and affects as many as 324,000 pregnant women each year. Pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for women in abusive relationships, and abuse can often begin or escalate during the pregnancy.

How can you get help?

  • If you’re pregnant, there is always a heightened risk during violent situations. If you’re in a home with stairs, try to stay on the first floor.  Getting into the fetal position around your stomach if you’re being attacked is another tactic that can be instrumental in staying safe.
  • Doctor’s visits can be an opportunity to discuss what is going on in your relationship.
  • If your partner goes to these appointments with you, try to find a moment when they’re out of the room to ask your care provider (or even the front desk receptionist) about coming up with an excuse to talk to them one-on-one.
  • If you’ve decided to leave your relationship, a health care provider can become an active participant in your plan to leave.
  • If possible, see if you can take a women-only prenatal class. This could be a comfortable atmosphere for discussing pregnancy concerns or could allow you to speak to the class instructor one-on-one.

 

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Domestic Violence increases in pregnancy, leading to infant & maternal death.     [Path to Safety]      [Learn More]      [Quickly Exit to a Weather Channel]

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