Though it's extremely unfortunate, domestic violence and abuse by a partner are not uncommon during pregnancy. In fact, according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) (www.endabuse.org), abuse is more common for pregnant women than gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
Here are the facts, based on data from FVPF:
- Homicide is the leading cause of traumatic death for pregnant women and new mothers in the United States, accounting for about 31 percent of maternal injury deaths.
- Each year about 324,000 pregnant women in the United States are abused by their partners.
- A significant proportion of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.
- Women whose pregnancies were unplanned have 2-4 times greater risk of being abused than do those whose pregnancies were planned.
- Young mothers are particularly vulnerable: 26 percent of new mothers between the ages of 13 and 17 are abused during pregnancy or the first three months postpartum.
- A pregnant woman who is abused is more likely to suffer from low weight gain, anemia, infections, vaginal bleeding, miscarriage, preterm labor, and other pregnancy complications.
If you are being abused physically, sexually, or emotionally, there are ways to get help. If you are in immediate danger, call the police or go to the hospital. To find a domestic violence program near you, talk with your doctor or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE or www.ndvh.org). To get help and information about sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE or www.rainn.org).
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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