The prevalence of domestic violence in pregnant women


* Mr S. W. Lindow, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hull Maternity Hospital, Hull HU9 5LX, UK.


Objective To determine the prevalence of domestic violence in a population of pregnant women.

Design Questionnaire survey.

Setting Antenatal booking clinic in a north of England hospital.

Population Five hundred consecutive women were included.

Methods Anonymous confidential questionnaire to women who were not accompanied by their partners.

Main outcome measures Disclosure of a past history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Results Four hundred and seventy-five questionnaires were returned (95% response rate). The prevalence of domestic violence was 17%. Domestic violence was highest in the age group 26–30 years and boyfriends were the main perpetrators. Punching and slapping were the most common pattern of violence, and 10% of women experiencing domestic violence had had forced sexual activity.

Conclusion The prevalence of domestic violence in a cohort of pregnant women in the north of England was 17%. Consideration should be given for routine screening for domestic violence in pregnancy to institute effective intervention strategies.