Domestic violence is a traumatic experience that can be psychological damaging for the sufferer. Your partner is someone you should be able to turn to for love, trust and understanding.
However, sometimes this person does not always turn out to be who you thought they really were. Though the abuser may feel they are justified for whatever reason in using violence to resolve a situation, they are wrong. Domestic violence is a crime and victims have a right to step forward if they have been subjected to it.
Unfortunately, domestic violence may become an even more dangerous, disturbing and traumatic event when a woman is pregnant. This is supposed to be a celebratory and joyful period filled with much anticipation for the future. Ideally, a couple starting a family will be planning for the new life and cherishing a new step in their commitment for each other. Yet the sobering reality of the situation is that domestic violence still occurs for certain women at this time. This may very well lead to devastating consequences for the mother to be, as well as the unborn child.
Whether the domestic abuse is physical, sexual, verbal or emotional, it may lead to health consequences for both the mother and the fetus. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, such violence increases the odds of stillbirth, miscarriage, low birth weight, fetal injury and more. On the other hand, the mother to be may also experience a greater risk for substance abuse, anxiety, chronic abuse, suicide attempts and other dangers. Such trauma also leads to increased instance of abortion. The woman may not choose to report such violence because of concerns of meeting housing and financial needs.
Domestic violence is also more likely to occur for pregnant women who were abused before the pregnancy. Such abuse also increases the odds of unplanned pregnancy. Though domestic abuse is never justified for any reason, an unplanned pregnancy is considered to be one factor in causing the man to feel stress or become more prone to abuse others. Other such factors may be the financial stress that is anticipated by having the baby or jealousy that more attention will instead be focused on the baby than himself.
Whether you are pregnant or not, there are warning signs you should watch for in your partner that may indicate the potential for domestic violence. For example, does he exhibit controlling behavior? This may be a means of forcing one to become more dependent and feel powerless against the abuser. The intention may be to keep the partner from having contact with a support system. If you find yourself avoiding certain actions or behaviors out of fear of your partner, then abuse may be more likely to occur. Though it may not be violence, abuse is already occurring if the partner is controlling your contraception, spending, clothing and who you spend time with. Abuse may also include threats or forcing the person to follow their will.
Those that abuse their partners tend to have certain characteristics in common. The person may be egotistical and display antisocial behavior. These people may be antagonistic toward the opposite sex and find it difficult to have empathy for others. These people may have substance abuse or alcohol problems, as well as troubles with the law. Another common personality type in such abusers is emotional dependency. These people often become jealous quickly and have relationships that are often turbulent.
How to respond in this situation
If a partner has committed an act of domestic abuse, than the abused should have important phone numbers ready. This will include the number of the local police department and your health care provider. Call 911 if you have any injuries that are serious and life threatening. Keep a copy of police or medical records on hand if you choose to file charges against the abuser. Such actions may seem difficult if you have been in a long term relationship and feel attached, but it is ultimately in your best interest and for your safety.
Also have someone close to you that you can trust in case a situation escalates to domestic abuse. This may be a friend, family member or another trusted individual that you can stay with temporarily, so that there is no risk to you in the immediate future. Of course, the abuser should not be made aware of your location at this time. Have a savings of cash ready if possible, along with your important documents collected together. This may include your social security card, driver’s license and more. You may also put a suitcase together and have someone you can trust hold it for you. This may include toiletries and clothes. You should also have an additional set of car keys and house keys made to include in the suitcase as well.
Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Group writer
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