Each year, approximately 1 and a half million women in the United States report a rape or physical assault by an intimate partner. This number includes as many as 324,000 women who are pregnant when violence occurs. These numbers probably underestimate the true magnitude of the problem because we know that most incidents are never reported. Violence during pregnancy may be a more common problem than conditions for which pregnant women are routinely screened. Studies have found possible associations between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy, delayed prenatal care, and behavioral risk factors such as smoking and alcohol and drug abuse.
Intimate partner violence can be expressed through many types of violent behavior. Its hallmark is coercive control, which includes actual physical or sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, and psychological or emotional abuse. Often, psychological and emotional abuse occurs along with physical or sexual violence. What is the difference in these types of abuse? Physical violence is defined as the intentional use of force with the potential for causing injury, harm, or death. It includes, but is not limited to, these acts: It also includes coercing other people to commit such acts. Again, violence can be actual or threatened. Sexual violence generally consists of three categories: Actual or threatened use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against her/his will. Psychological and emotional violence is defined as harm to the victim caused by acts or threats of acts such as the following: Humiliating, name-calling, using profanity; Embarrassing victim deliberately—especially in public or controlling victim's movement and activities.
Intimate partner violence often is associated with abuse of other household members, particularly children. Research indicates that violence is a learned behavior, and witnessing violence in the home as a child is a strong risk factor for involvement in abusive relationships as an adult. In addition, experiencing abuse as a child has been associated with other risk factors such as depression, substance abuse, poor school performance, and high-risk sexual activity. Fetal health could be affected indirectly through maternal stress, smoking, or alcohol or drug use or abuse—all of which might be responses to the violence itself. These conditions and behaviors are known to be associated with poor outcomes such as low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, and fetal alcohol syndrome. Moreover, women in abusive relationships may find it difficult or impossible to fulfill prenatal care recommendations such as frequency of visits, prescribed supplements, nutrition, STD prevention, or substance-abuse recovery programs.
If you or a person you know is going through something similar to what you just read there is help. If you are pregnant you can go to you ob/gyn and inform them of what is occurring and they can provide you referrals to shelters and local hotlines and local authorities to protect you and you r child. To get the help you or your friend needs to take that first step and ask for it.
Story adapted from: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/violence/intimatepartnerviolence/sld001.htm#1