By Tatyana Bellamy-Walker.
While bringing a baby into the world can be a mother’s pride and joy, for some households it also means an increase in violence at home.
More than 300,000 pregnant women face domestic violence each year, reports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. According to the coalition, women with unintended pregnancies are two to four times more likely to experience violence than women with planned pregnancies. Pregnancy often triggers domestic violence because of jealousy, the focus shifts from the abusive partner to the pregnancy. An additional child also brings extra financial stress, which can push a partner to abuse a pregnant person. Lastly, the spouse might be angry that their partner’s body is changing in ways that do not benefit them.
In an Op-Ed published on Bustle, Eden Strong, a mother of two and blogger of the critically acclaimed blog, It is Not my Shame to Bear recalled surviving pregnancy while living with her abusive ex-husband.
“He raped me on our wedding night, and the abuses I suffered at his hands were a constant and daily occurrence in our marriage,” penned Strong in an essay on the site. “I’ll never forget seeing two pink lines on the pregnancy test; not because I was overcome with joy, but because I was overcome with terror.”
She added, “I will also never forget sliding down the bathroom wall until I was all but slumped on the floor, knees pulled up tight against my chest, lungs screaming for air, and my heart pounding with fear. Fear for myself, fear for my unborn child, and fear for the road ahead of me; the road ahead for both of us.” While Strong attempted to leave the relationship, she also felt “trapped” by a lack of resources. “Despite what people might think, leaving a domestic abuse situation isn’t as simple as moving into a shelter,” she wrote. “Without any money of your own, a college education, a career, family support, or a legal divorce — and without the self-esteem to believe in yourself — it’s anything but easy to leave. And so, I stayed.”
She is not alone. According to the National Domestic Violence hotline, financial struggles often keep victims of intimate partner violence in abusive relationships. Reproductive coercion also plays a role in the domestic abuse.
Strong says the pregnancies were also due to the sabotaging of birth control. This includes when a partner hides or throws away birth control pills, poking holes in condoms or even removing birth control methods like the ring or IUD. According to Strong’s blog, her ex-husband has since disappeared. She is now a single parent and runs non-profit helping women affected by domestic violence.
When a pregnant woman faces abuse it introduces trauma to the child. This increases the risk of hemorrhaging, a uterine rupture, pre-term birth, complications during labor or miscarriage later in the pregnancy, according to the Domestic Violence Hotline. Pregnant women who are facing intimate partner violence also endure behavioral risks factors such as smoking, drug use, and alcohol, which may be used as a tool to cope with the trauma. If a pregnant person is in an abusive relationship the best way to seek help is through their doctor. Prenatal Care visits might be the only option for obtaining resources such as domestic violence screening and medical services for recovery. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, you can call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TheHotline.org. Calls are accepted 24/7 and online chat is available from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. CT. If you are an immigrant, in an abusive relationship and depending on your spouse for immigration benefits, please call the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates at 718-222-3155 for a FREE legal consultation.