During each of my four pregnancies, I was asked at my first prenatal visit if I was abused by my husband. I found this strange and my husband was offended by the question. We couldn’t imagine why they would ask us this question. Recently I learned an interesting statistic that answered our questions.
According to the American Institute on Domestic Violence, between four and eight percent of pregnant women suffer abuse at the hands of their partners during pregnancy. You may be asked this question at your prenatal visit. If the doctor asks, be honest. They can refer you to an agency that can help you.
In some cases, domestic violence starts during pregnancy. A man may have been verbally or emotionally abusive in the past, but may become physically violent during the pregnancy. In fact, homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women. I was shocked to learn this fact.
There are good reasons to be honest about domestic violence and to break away, if you are pregnant. When the mother is abused during pregnancy, the baby is in danger. Preterm labor, placenta abruption and fetal death can result from domestic violence against the pregnant mother.
The baby is not only at risk during pregnancy, but after birth as well. The American Institute of Domestic Violence reports that more than half of children of abused mothers will suffer abuse from her abuser. Older children are often hurt when they try to intervene and protect Mommy. If you get away, you are not only saving yourself future pain, but your child as well.
If you want to break away from an abusive relationship, do so very carefully. When women first leave abusive partners, they are initially at risk of more violence. Make a solid plan to get away. Leave when he is not home, so a fight will not break out. Consider having male relatives present to help you collect your belongings, even if he isn’t home. If he shows up unexpectedly, dial 911 immediately.
There are domestic violence shelters in most communities. Call the domestic violence hotline 800-787-3224. They can help you with counseling, referrals and crisis intervention. They can help you find a shelter in your area, if needed. In addition, they can help you find local services for you and the baby.
If you have a friend who is pregnant and being abused, show her this blog or other information on breaking away from abusive partners.