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Domestic Violence Awareness & Pregnancy

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a very real and important topic to address, especially in Black communities. Domestic violence affects many individuals, including pregnant people and Black women. Shedding light on this issue can make a significant impact on the different perspectives and awareness that can be learned from it. In the first part of this blog, we will cover how domestic violence can affect pregnancy and reproductive health. Then we will discuss some statistics, signs, and emotional effects that are common with domestic violence and black women and birthing people.


Pregnancy & Domestic Violence:


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 1 in 6 pregnant women experiences domestic violence. The CDC reports that 26% of pregnant women experience abuse by an intimate partner at some point during pregnancy. Reproductive coercion is a form of domestic violence that involves controlling or manipulating a person's reproductive choices and actions, including decisions about contraception, pregnancy, and parenting. It can have serious physical, emotional, and psychological consequences for the victim and the baby.


Examples of Reproductive Coercion:

  1. Sabotaging Contraception: This can include tampering with birth control methods, such as removing contraceptive pills, poking holes in condoms, or removing condoms during sex without the partner's knowledge.

  2. Forcing Pregnancy or Abortion: An abuser might pressure a partner to become pregnant when they are not ready, or coerce them into terminating a pregnancy against their will.

  3. Controlling Access to Healthcare: This can involve preventing a partner from seeking medical care related to contraception, pregnancy, or reproductive health.

  4. Threatening or Using Violence: An abuser may threaten physical harm or actually use violence to force a partner into specific reproductive choices.

It is important to raise awareness about reproductive coercion and provide support and resources for those who may be experiencing it. Creating a safe space for open conversations about reproductive rights and choices is a crucial step towards combating this form of domestic violence.


Now, we will move on to the statistics, signs, and emotional impacts domestic violence survivors experience. Black Women and Domestic Violence:

  • Black women experience domestic violence at higher rates compared to women of other racial/ethnic backgrounds.

  • According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, about 40-60% of Black women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.


Signs of Domestic Violence:


1. Physical Abuse:

  • Unexplained injuries or frequent visits to the hospital.

  • Wearing concealing clothing, even in warm weather.

  • Signs of physical harm like bruises, cuts, or burns.


2. Emotional/Psychological Abuse:

  • Constant criticism, belittling, or demeaning language.

  • Isolation from friends and family.

  • Controlling behavior, such as monitoring phone calls or messages.


3. Financial Abuse:

  • Restricting access to money or controlling finances.

  • Sabotaging job opportunities or career advancement.


4. Sexual Abuse:

  • Non-consensual sexual activity or coercion.

  • Making demeaning or derogatory remarks about one's body or appearance.


5. Manipulation and Gaslighting:

  • Distorting reality or making the victim doubt their own perception of events.

  • Blaming the victim for the abuse.


6. Fearful Behavior:

  • Exhibiting signs of anxiety, depression, or constant fear.

  • Appearing overly cautious or jumpy.



Domestic violence can have profound and lasting emotional effects on survivors. It's important to recognize and understand these impacts in order to provide support and healing. Here we will discuss some common emotional effects of domestic violence.


Fear & Anxiety

Survivors may live in a constant state of fear, anticipating the next outburst or episode of violence. This fear can be paralyzing and lead to chronic anxiety.


Depression

Prolonged exposure to abuse can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.


Low Self-Esteem

Constant criticism, belittling, and demeaning behavior can erode a survivor's sense of self-worth. They may come to believe that they are unworthy of love or respect. This also is why many people who experience domestic violence stay in the relationship, because they are convinced that no one else will love or treat them right.


Guilt & Shame

Survivors often internalize the blame for the abuse, even though it is never their fault. They may feel guilty for "provoking" the violence or for not leaving sooner.


Isolation

Abusers often isolate their victims from friends and family, leaving them feeling alone and cut off from sources of support.


PTSD

Survivors of domestic violence can experience symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, long after the abuse has ended.


Lack of Trust

After experiencing betrayal and betrayal of trust, survivors may have difficulty trusting others, even those who are genuinely trying to help. Trust issues and emotional scars from the abuse can make it challenging to form and sustain healthy relationships in the future.



Anger & Aggression

Some survivors may experience intense anger, which can be directed both inward (resulting in self-harm or destructive behaviors) or outward (leading to aggressive behavior towards others).


Emotional Numbness

In order to cope with the trauma, some survivors may detach from their emotions, leading to a sense of emotional numbness.


Hopelessness

Being in a situation where one is subjected to abuse can lead to a sense of powerlessness and a belief that they have no control over their own life.


Suicidal Thoughts

In severe cases, survivors may experience thoughts of suicide as a way to escape the pain and hopelessness they feel.


It's important to note that every survivor's experience is unique, and not all individuals will experience all of these effects. Additionally, healing is a journey, and with the right support and resources, survivors can work towards reclaiming their sense of self and finding hope and happiness again. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, Ashley is accepting new guests and is looking forward to meeting with you. Please book a free 15 minute consultation on our website at www.pregnancytherapist.com.






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