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Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnancy - Domestic Violence

Signs of Abuse

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Updated July 05, 2014

Abused women come from all backgrounds and socioeconomic areas. There are barriers to determining who has suffered abuse because of fear of reprisal from the violent partner, lack of knowledgeable viable alternatives to money and housing issues, and embarrassment that she is even in this situation. Practitioners need to be sensitive to these issues.

Common signs might be:

  • Delay in seeking prenatal care
  • Unexplained bruising or damage to her breasts or abdomen
  • Continued use of products harmful to pregnancy (cigarettes, drugs, alcohol)
  • Reoccurring psychosomatic illnesses
  • Lack of attendance to prenatal education

Getting Help

Help is available for those involved in abusive relationships. Many states have programs to provide you with shelter and clothing, even prenatal care. The American Institute on Domestic Violence has a great page of resources, including a state by state listing of organizations. There is also a listing of international sites available. Remember, that help is available, and you are not alone. Please, for your sake and your baby's do not delay in seeking help, your lives may depend on it.

"National Domestic Violence Hotline: If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact your local battered women's shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233), 800-787-3224 TYY." from the CDC

Resources
Bergstrom, L. and others. You'll feel me touching you, sweetie: vaginal examinations during the second stage of labor.
Birth 19:10-18, Mar. 1992.

Bohn D, Holz K. Sequelae of abuse.
J Nurse Midwifery 1996;41(6):442-56.

Bohn D, Holz K. Sequelae of abuse: health effects of childhood sexual abuse, domestic battering and rape.
J Nurs Midwifery 1996;41(6):442-56.

Brown J, Lent B, Brett P, Sas G, Pederson L. Development of the woman abuse screening tool for use in family practice.
Fam Med 1996;28:422-8.

Campbell J, Poland M, Waller J, Ager J. Correlates of battering during pregnancy.
Res Nurs Health 1992;15:219-26.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Intimate Partner Violence. Last accessed October 30 2010.

Dietz P. Delayed entry into prenatal care: effect of physical violence.
Obstet Gynecol 1997;90:221-4.

Enhanced Surveillance for Pregnancy-Associated Mortality, Maryland 1993-1998
Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 285, No. 11)

Goodwin T, Breen M. Pregnancy outcome and fetomaternal hemorrhage after noncatastrophic trauma.
Am J Obstet Gynecol 1990;162:665-71.

McFarlane J, Parker B, Soeken K. Physical abuse, smoking and substance use during pregnancy: prevalence, interrelationships and effects on birth weight.
J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurse 1996;25:313-20.

National Association for County and City Health Offcials (NACCHO). Intimate Partner Violence among Pregnant and Parenting Women: Local Health Department Strategies for Assessment, Intervention, and Prevention. 2008.

Newberger E, Barkan S, Lieberman E, et al. Abuse of pregnant women and adverse birth outcome.
JAMA 1992;267:2370-2.

Petersen R, Gazmararian J, Spitz A, et al. Violence and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Am J Prev Med 1997;13(5):366-73.

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