Domestic Violence During Pregnancy 25% to 40% of all women who are abused, are battered during pregnancy.


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Statistics about Domestic Violence During Pregnancy
Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects many women. Pregnant women are particular vulnerable to abuse, and by some estimates suffer partner abuse at rates higher than the background population. Unfortunately, domestic violence frequently begins or intensifies during pregnancy. It is one of the most common complications during pregnancy.
  • Each year 1.5 million women in the United States report a rape or physical assault. This number includes 324,00 women who are pregnant.
  • 25% - 40% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.
  • 15% - 25% of pregnant women are physical and sexually abused.
  • At least l in 6 women is abused during pregnancy.
  • One quarter of pregnant women is physically abused.
  • 4% - 17% of all women are abused during pregnancy.
  • Nearly 50% of abusive husbands batter their wives when they are pregnant.

Why Abuse is Directed Toward Pregnant Woman

Abuses of pregnant women are triggered by the same situations that trigger abuse in non-pregnant women. These triggers for violence include domestic services, sex, jealousy, and money.

The woman's body, which previously might have been considered the property of the man, is now taken over by the fetus. Battering may be triggered later in pregnancy if an insecure man places undue emphasis on his mate's appearance and begins to dislike his partner's changing body.

The woman may be tired and not want sex or be unable to do housework. In this situation, the abusive partner may rape the pregnant woman or abuse her for not fulfilling her household duties.

The male is jealous of his partner's focus on the pregnancy and the impending birth of their children. A new baby may be perceived as threatening to a jealous man who will soon have to share his partner's time and attention with the child. In addition, having a child can evoke anger if one angry batterer resents the added responsibility.

12% of women with unwanted pregnancies and 8% of women with mistimed pregnancy reported physical abuse, while only 3% of women with planned pregnancies reported being physically hurt by their partners.

How Abuse Affects the Mother and the Fetus

When a pregnant woman is assaulted, two individuals are endangered, the woman herself and her unborn child. Violence during pregnancy may be more harmful since it poses a significant threat to the fetus. Effects to the mother range from fractured bones to maternal death, and effects to the fetus range from preterm birth and fetal distress to miscarriages and stillbirth.

Battering of the pregnant women tends to be directed at the breast, abdomen, and genitals. Abdominal trauma to the pregnant woman can cause abruptio placentae leading to fetal loss, early onset of labor, delivery of a low birth weight infant, abdominal organs ruptured in the infant, and fractures. Physical abuse may also result in premature rupture of membranes, rupture of mother's uterus, spleen or liver, premature separation of placenta, anemia, or infections such as chorioamnionitis.

The victimization of a woman may lead to exacerbation of chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or asthma, which may have a negative effect on the fetus.

Maternal psychological stress has been associated with depression, stress, and this may have indirect and direct effects on the fetus. Direct effects result in precipitation of pre-term delivery or placental hypoperfusion resulting in delayed fetal growth.

Abuse may also lead to risk such as elevated stress and isolation and therefore inadequate access to prenatal care. Emotional distress may increase frequency of behavioral risks such as alcohol, drug, and tobacco use and inadequate maternal nutrition. However, many women receive inadequate prenatal care because the men who abuse them forbid them to go.

Battered pregnant women are more likely than non- battered pregnant women to report drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy, thus placing the baby at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome or drug addiction.