Domestic violence experts state that pregnancy may escalate violence in abusive relationships. If a woman is already in an abusive relationship, pregnancy can increase the frequency and intensity of domestic violence. The International Journal of Women’s Health estimates that domestic violence affects as many as 300,000 pregnant women every year in the U.S.
What are the Increased Risks?
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that domestic violence during pregnancy is linked to domestic partner homicide. Partners who batter women and increase that abuse when the woman becomes pregnant may be more likely to commit homicide. Homicide was found to be the second leading cause of injury-related fatalities in pregnant women, surpassed only by car accidents.
Studies have shown that domestic violence is a factor in delayed prenatal care. Abusive partners may prevent a woman from leaving her home to go to appointments or a woman may fear abuse if the pregnancy is revealed. Preterm labor and low birth weight, as well as higher rates of miscarriage and abortion, have also been linked to domestic violence.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that approximately 25 percent of women who are domestic violence victims state that reproductive coercion results in the victim being forced to become pregnant and/or stay pregnant against her will. Sometimes women are forced by an abusive partner to terminate a pregnancy against their will. This is a method of controlling a woman, especially if she is forced to have multiple children and in turn becomes financially dependent on her partner. Domestic violence increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety, or stress in pregnant women.
Domestic Violence During Pregnancy
In relationships that are already impacted by domestic violence, a pregnant woman’s partner may feel threatened by the unborn child and the time and attention they will need will create jealousy. Sometimes, the partner will feel overwhelmed by the stress of taking care of a child. Women are often reluctant to follow through with protection orders due to fear of retaliation by their boyfriends or spouses and fear for their unborn child’s safety.
If a woman in an abusive relationship becomes pregnant, it is important to maintain communication with family members and friends so that they are aware of the situation. It is also vital for the pregnant woman to tell her physician about the situation. They can provide information and resources to enable the abused woman to make good choices and decisions. Moreover, the woman’s doctor may be able to express the danger of staying in such a relationship both for the mother and her unborn child.
One survey indicated that only 18 percent of pregnant women were asked by their physician about domestic violence. More healthcare providers should be screening pregnant women for domestic abuse so that they can take advantage of available resources. Women who are at risk can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 202-529-5991 for a local domestic violence hotline.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Fight for Victims of Domestic Violence
If you believe that you are in a domestically violent relationship, our experienced Towson domestic violence lawyers are prepared to help you. At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, our attorneys can assist you with custody, child support, equitable distribution, and spousal support. Contact us online or call our Towson offices at 443-589-0150 to schedule a free consultation.