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Abuse during pregnancy is more common than most people think. About 1 in 5 women may suffer abuse when they are pregnant. Abuse can start during pregnancy or get worse.
Abuse includes physical hurting, like slapping, hitting, kicking, and punching. But it also can include verbal hurting, like being called names and being accused of doing things you have not done. Abuse can also include being forced to have sex against your wishes or being made to do things sexually you do not want to do.
Abuse can include threats and control. The abuser may try to make you behave in a certain way and may say something bad will happen to you if you don’t. The abuser may try to keep you from seeing your family and friends. He or she may make you explain in detail what you do each day, where you go, and whom you see and talk to.
Women who are abused during pregnancy often feel confused and embarrassed. They ask themselves, “How can this be happening to me?” There is nothing to be embarrassed about. The abuser is to blame. Abuse is never your fault.
Adjusting and adapting to a pregnancy and a new baby can be very stressful for both partners. Some reasons why abuse happens during pregnancy may include the following:
Abuse affects your mind and body. Here are some of the effects it can have:
Many women don’t want to accept the reality that they are being abused. Many just don’t realize that their partner’s actions are abusive. Here’s how to know if you’re being abused:
If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of these questions, you are probably being abused. You may be at high risk for being hurt or even killed by your partner.
Consider obtaining a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. The PFA is a legal document granted by the Court that prohibits your abuser from any form of contact with you.
Here are ways to plan for your safety so you can act quickly if you need to get away:
Children who grow up in the midst of violence and abuse often are deeply affected by what they witness. Protect your children, and protect yourself. Keep in mind that a partner who abuses women during pregnancy is more likely to hurt children. Seek help for your children and yourself if you are being abused.
Contact your local women’s shelter, or talk to your doctor, nurse, midwife, or social worker about what is happening to you. These staff members know about abuse and are trained to help you in this situation. All information you give is confidential.
For confidential help and information, call toll-free 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you are hearing impaired, call (TDD) 1-800-787-3224.