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Keywords:

  • abuse during pregnancy;
  • intimate partner violence;
  • risk for murder;
  • screening for intimate partner violence

Abstract

Background

Abuse during pregnancy is common and affects upwards of one in six pregnant women worldwide. The objective of this study is to describe the demographics, frequency, and severity of abuse, and the risk of murder for women who report abuse during pregnancy compared with women who do not report abuse.

Methods

A total of 300 women seeking assistance for partner abuse were recruited to participate in a 7-year prospective study. Of the 300 women, 50 reported they had been pregnant within the last 4 months; 25 of the women (50%) reported they were “beaten” during the pregnancy; and 25 women (50%) reported they had not been “beaten.” Analysis was completed on differential severity for abuse and risk for murder between the two groups.

Results

Women reporting abuse during pregnancy had statistically significant (p < 0.001) higher scores for Threat of abuse, F(1, 49) = 14.37, < 0.001; Physical abuse, F(1, 49) = 21.21, < 0.001; and Danger for murder weighted F(1, 49) = 22.99, < 0.001. All effects sizes were large.

Conclusion

Women abused during pregnancy are at greater risk for further abuse and in severe danger for murder. To ensure the safety of pregnant women, screening policies are essential.