On Friday May 1st, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence is pleased to bring national experts Gael Strack, JD and Ralph Riviello, MD, to Maine for a day-long training called Addressing Strangulation: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach.
Reproductive coercion covers a wide variety of behaviors; the common theme is the use of the abused woman's reproductive health as a means of gaining power and control.
If any of this sounds familiar, connect with a domestic violence advocate to talk about a safety plan. Consider also telling your health care provider. They may be able to help you think about methods of birth control that would be undetectable to your abuser—helping ensure that you remain in control of your own reproductive health.
Pregnant women in abusive relationships face particular risks. Homicide is the second leading cause of traumatic death for pregnant and recently pregnant women in the United States1. Violence during pregnancy has serious health implications. According to Futures Without Violence:
Women experiencing abuse in the year prior to and/or during a recent pregnancy are 40 to 60 percent more likely than non-abused women to report high-blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, severe nausea, kidney or urinary tract infections and hospitalization during pregnancy and are 37 percent more likely to deliver preterm. Children born to abused mothers are 17 percent more likely to be born underweight and more than 30 percent more likely than other children to require intensive care upon birth.2
At the national and state levels, violence prevention organizations and family planning agencies are raising awareness of this issue, and are incorporating new safety-planning practices to address reproductive coercion. As one example, MCEDV worked with Spruce Run, the local domestic violence resource center located in Penobscot County, to create training materials that address reproductive coercion from the domestic violence perspective.
1Chang J, Berg C, Saltzman L, Herndon J. 2005. Homicide: A Leading Cause of Injury Deaths Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women in the United States, 1991-1999. American Journal of Public Health. 95(3): 471-477.
2 Silverman, JG, Decker, MR, Reed, E, Raj, A. Intimate Partner Violence Victimization Prior to and During Pregnancy Among Women Residing in 26 U.S. States: Associations with Maternal and Neonatal Health. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2006; 195(1): 140-148.