Intimate Partner Violence and Pregnancy

Intimate Partner Violence and Pregnancy

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Intimate Partner Violence and Pregnancy

Violence experienced by women in abusive relationships accounts for 20% of domestic violence while men experiencing the violence amount to 2%. Women are prone to violence of all kinds at the homes, workplaces and other areas, which is mostly imposed on them by men (Brownridge et al, 1999). The violence could be physical, sexual or psychological. Violence experienced by women in relationships from their partners heightens during pregnancy. Where violence existed before the occurrence of the pregnancy, it continuously increases when the woman becomes pregnant. Some women have reported the initial eruption of violence occurred during pregnancy. During pregnancy, women undergo various changes in their body that affect their moods and their behavior. This results in misunderstandings since the partner may not understand the reasons for the changes. There are various reasons connected to the rising cases of violence against pregnant women (Hattery, 2009).

Uncertainty on the paternity of the unborn baby is a major cause of tension. This causes uncertainty to the man since the paternity is not certain. This is a common cause of violence imposed on pregnant women by their spouses. Most men consider raising the child of another man unacceptable since it lowers their ego. Therefore, the men become very anxious in confirming the paternity of the unborn baby. If infidelity before the pregnancy is suspected, it accelerates the incidence of violence. (Burch et al, 2004). Men afraid of responsibilities often deny the paternity of the baby and impose threats on women in an attempt to avoid increased responsibilities. Cases of homicide are rampant where the men murder the newborns or the women due to uncertainty of thee child’s paternity. Jealousy is a main cause of violence where uncertainty of paternity is involved.

For certain cultures, the gender of a child represents the value of a woman. The male child is favored by certain cultures that have mastered the signs of pregnancy for a male child. A woman carrying a male child receives respectful treatment and care while a woman pregnant with a female child receives humiliation. Such cases are prominent in uneducated men from certain cultures who do not understand biology. The woman does not determine the gender of a child but the man is the determinant. Some of these men even deny paternity of the child and neglect their upkeep. Divorce of women that deliver female children in these communities is common and since the cultures support these practices, they continue increasing. Such cultures relate gender with certain privileges. A man with many sons considers himself a real man and every man in the society therefore strives to father male children in search of the status quo. This justifies violence against women in relationships especially during pregnancy.

Intimacy during this period reduces due to the mood swings experienced by the woman due to the hormonal changes. The hormonal chances have serious implications on the sex drive of the woman and this may affect the intimacy of the spouses. This increases tension between them especially when the man lacks understanding on the effects of pregnancy. This leads to extra marital affairs for the man who sought comfort elsewhere and undermines the role of the pregnant partner. This causes abandonment of the pregnant woman, which becomes very stressful for them. Extra-marital affairs are a major cause of stress experienced by pregnant women, which is a form of emotional violence. It leads to lack of trust and heightens the tension between the partners. Divorce could result from this kind of tension, which further affects the health of the pregnant woman hence the unborn baby (Gazmararian et al, 1996).

The age of the spouses determines the prevalence of intimate partner violence. Adolescents are at a higher risk of this kind of violence in comparison to pregnant adults Pregnancy in adolescence mostly occurs when the victim is in school and therefore unemployed. Presence of the pregnancy means the requirement of financial support for the health of the mother and the upkeep of the baby. Since most adolescent girls cannot afford the required finances, they rely on their families and partners. Spouses with huge great age gap often experience problems since they have different perspectives on issues. This could contribute to the prevalent domestic violence-affecting women since most women are younger than their partners are. Young couples are more likely to experience a violent relationship than older couples are. Therefore, pregnancy triggers violence for young couples.

Income level determines the possibility of violence during pregnancy. Low-income earners experience a lot of stress during this period since pregnancy requires financial support. Pregnancy requires proper budgeting since the health bills of the woman and the child require adequate finances. Due to the high level of frustration resulting from the increased financial requirements, the men channel their frustrations to the women through physical beatings. Poor spouses experience violent incidences at a higher rate than financially stable spouses do. Lack of finances also results in inaccessibility of health facilities for prenatal care. The expected child also requires consistent financial support to cater for the basic needs. In cases where the partners are not yet married, division of financial responsibilities becomes a source of conflict and results in violence. This may have serious implications on the mental health of the child due to the treatment as an economic liability. These problems mostly begin to show during pregnancy (Campbell et al, 2004).

The level of education of the spouses greatly affects the eruption of violence during this period. Education is an essential part of human life since it is the source of enlightenment. In school, students undergo various lessons on economic, health, social and other aspects of life. These lessons help in the understanding of various occurrences in life such as pregnancy and knowing the facts surrounding the condition. Uneducated men may blame the woman for been careless in using birth control measures without knowing that family planning is the responsibility of both partners. Lack of knowledge on the modern methods of treatment may result in conflict since some men believe pregnant women only seek medical attention when intending to perform an abortion. Such baseless accusations cause intense arguments between the partners which leads to violence due to the pregnancy (Bohn et al, 2004).

Sabotage of birth control measures is another reason for increased violence during pregnancy. This causes unintentional pregnancy contrary to the initial planning by the couple to delay child bearing. Some men carry out such measures in order to gain control over their women. This is a form of violence since it unwillingly makes a woman pregnant against her will. Forced pregnancies also result in conflict between the couple and the woman is trapped in an abusive relationship especially when she cannot financially support herself and the baby. This form of abuse is common among adolescent girls and women of low economic status. This torture begins at the initial stages of pregnancy.

Sexually transmitted infections also become s a source of conflict for couples during pregnancy. At the initial stages of pregnancy, various tests are carried out on the woman to determine the age of the pregnancy to make monitoring of the child’s development possible. Some tests are also done to determine the health of the mother and detect any risk to the unborn baby. Some detected illnesses may include sexually transmitted infections. This is a topic of conflict for many couple since it raises suspicion and the feeling of betrayal. This results in violence since the partners feel betrayed by the other and the question of the child’s paternity arises. Detection of STIs especially HIV cause marriage break-ups because of trust level deterioration. This negatively affects the mother of the child since emotional stress may cause miscarriages.

Some women result to substance abuse due to the stressful pregnancy period (Bullock et al, 2001). Most drug abusers during pregnancy are motivated by the intimate partner violence they experience at home. Substance use during pregnancy is toxic to the unborn baby and may have serious implications, which include interference of born formation for the fetus. This causes the birth of disabled children. Substance abuse during this period accelerates the level of violence experienced. This occurs because alcohol and other substances interfere with human judgment, which makes people more aggressive hence increasing the level of violence. Alcohol use by the other partner also contributes greatly to the prevalence of domestic violence.

Intimate partner violence is a major cause of mental disorders experienced by families. The psychological torture imposed on the women during pregnancy causes emotional distress and the other family members (Gross et al, 2002). The mental instability caused by the violence continues to affect the women even after childbirth that also affects the born child in the end. The mental instability affects the level of care given to the pregnancy. This subsequently affects the health and development of the unborn child and may lead to death (Brownridge et al, 2011).

However, pregnancy is not always a risk factor in intimate partner violence. This kind of violence always exists regardless of the presence of the pregnancy. Many women admit to experience violence even before they got pregnant. Presence of strenuous conditions for couples leads to conflict. Such conditions may include misunderstandings, lack of trust and other factors that do not relate to pregnancy. Economic strain also causes violence in relationships due to the struggle for the limited resources. (Datner et al, 2007).

In some cases, pregnancy brings the family back together and acts as a strong unifying bond. Some violent men transform after their spouse gets pregnant and stop the violence. Pregnancy also triggers responsibility especially for younger men due to the expected change of status. This stops the existing violence and encourages healthy relationships. Some women manipulate their partners using the pregnancy as an excuse. This assists in stopping the violence and encouraging a higher level of responsibility.

Intimate partner violence is therefore a serious issue that affects women especially during pregnancy. This calls for protection measures of the women to prevent serious damages to their health and that of their children. Protection of Pregnant women should acquire the first priority in dealing with intimate partner violence. Domestic violence should acquire similar treatment as any other form of violence since it also has serious implications for the victims.

References

Bohn, D. K., Tebben, J. G., & Campbell, J. C. (2004). Influences of income, education, age, and ethnicity on physical abuse before and during pregnancy. Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 33, 561-571.

Brownridge et al . in Violence Against 878 Women 17 (2011)

Brownridge, D. A., & Halli, S. S. (1999). Measuring family violence: The conceptualization and utilization of prevalence and incidence rates. Journal of Family Violence, 14, 333-350.

Bullock, L. F. C., Mears, J. L. C., Woodcock, C., & Record, R. (2001). Retrospective study of the association of stress and smoking during pregnancy in rural women. Addictive Behaviors, 26, 405-413.

Burch, R. L., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2004). Pregnancy as a stimulus for domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 19, 243-247.

Campbell, J. C., Garcia-Moreno, C., & Sharps, P. (2004). Abuse during pregnancy in industrialized and developing countries. Violence Against Women, 10, 770-789.

Datner, E. M., Wiebe, D. J., Brensinger, C. M., & Nelson, D. B. (2007). Identifying pregnant women experiencing domestic violence in an urban emergency department. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22, 124-135.

Gazmararian, J. A., Lazorick, S., Spitz, A. M., Ballard, T. J., Saltzman, L. E., & Marks, J. S. (1996). Prevalence of violence against pregnant women. Journal of the American Medical Association, 275, 1915-1920.

Hattery, A. (2009). Intimate partner violence. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Gross, K. H., Wells, C. S., Radigan-Garcia, A., & Dietz, P. M. (2002). Correlates of self reports of being very depressed in the months after delivery: Results from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 6, 247-253.