Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence & The Expectant Mother

Doctors and nurse-midwives are trained to protect the health of both mother and baby. Therefore, at their discretion, you may field questions (or be presented with a questionnaire) about violent, abusive or intimidating behavior that occurs within relationships.

The Facts

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury among women of reproductive-age (up to age 40), and the single most common cause for female suicide. Up to 60% of female murder victims die as a result of a domestic dispute. Within a heterosexual relationship, domestic violence may occur for the very first time during pregnancy, having a tendency to worsen during that pregnancy. This may due to the added stress that pregnancy can bring to a relationship. As a health risk, domestic violence is 8 % - 10% more common than pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or placental previa.

Domestic Violence Defined

Violent, abusive or intimidating behavior carried out by an adult against a partner or former- partner to control and dominate that person is domestic violence and can cause fear, physical and/or psychological harm. It is most commonly inflicted on a woman by a man. Domestic violence includes:

  • Hitting, choking, kicking, punching, slapping, pushing, shoving, etc.
  • Verbal/emotional/psychological abuse (name calling, threatening, etc.)
  • Sexual abuse (rape, sodomy, groping, etc.)
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Financial abuse (withholding money)
  • Social abuse (degrading comments or actions in public)
  • Domestic violence may cause pregnancy complications, including premature delivery and/or low birth-weight, and can also lead to miscarriage. Causing depression for the mother, a history of domestic victimization can lead to a lifetime of mental health problems.

Without intervention, domestic abuse will not vanish or cease, often escalating to cause serious medical consequences. If you are experiencing any of these conditions (or if you know someone that is) please get help immediately.

What Can I Do If I'm Being Abused

Call the police and file a report as quickly as possible.

If you're hurt, seek medical attention immediately at a hospital. Your injuries will be treated, and documented as well.

Develop a Safety Plan

  • Make contact. A list of National Agency phone numbers is included below, but you must take the initiative to look in the yellow-pages (or on the internet) to identify local agencies. Crisis hotlines and centers are there to help you determine what to do when your partner becomes violent. You may also confide in a neighbor, asking them to call the police if they hear or see a disturbance at your home.
  • Practice leaving your home, identifying which doors, windows and routes are best.
  • Devise a code-word that means "Call The Police" for use by your children, family, friends or neighbors.
  • Tell someone you work with. Carefully identify a trustworthy person with whom you can share your situation. This may include office or building security. It may be helpful to give them a photo of your abuser.
  • Devise a safe plan for leaving work. This may include arranging a ride in a co-workers car to your own car, or taking a variety of routes home / to a friend's home.

Assemble an Emergency Safety Kit with the following:

  • Cash, a checkbook and/or credit cards.
  • Clean clothing.
  • Extra keys for the car and house.
  • Personal records, such as birth certificates and school records, social security and public aid cards, your marriage license, records of your partner's income, etc.
  • A list of people and phone numbers to call for shelter or a transport.

Important Note: Keep this kit hidden away in a safe, easily accessible place, or with someone you can trust.

National Agency Phone Numbers
24-Hour Statewide Crisis Line 1-800-603-HELP
National Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE
24 Hour Multilingual 1-800-787-3224