Domestic Abuse During Pregnancy

The prevalence rate of violence against women during pregnancy is high.

Why pregnant women don’t disclose abuse to their healthcare providers

•Shame and/or embarrassment
•Fear of the abuser and retribution
• Belief the abuse is normal and common among couples
• Fear of judgmental attitudes
• Belief or hope he will change (when the baby comes)
• Her partner is present
• The abuse is her responsibility, no-one else canhelp

Why health providers don’t want to ask about abuse

The provider may:

• not recognize non-physical symptoms
• fear offending patients
• not know how common domestic violence is
• believe if they do not see it, it is not a problem, so do not ask
• not have the time
• not understand the consequences
• experience identification with patients
• have experienced violence themselves as victims or abusers
• not believe that the man could be an abuser
• feel powerless
• be ignorant of community domestic violence agencies and in the case of some male GPs, think that their gender is a barrier




A u s t r a l i a n   D o m e s t i c   &   F a m i l y   V i o l e n c e   C l e a r i n g h o u s e   I s s u e s   P a p e r  6

Taft, A. 2000, Lifting the Lid on Pandora’s Box: training family doctors in the detection and management of intimate partner abuse/domestic violence,
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, National Centre
for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra

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