Physically abused pregnant women's perceptions about the quality of their relationships with their male partners

Suzanne Cloutier, Sandra L Martin, Kathryn E Moracco, Julian Garro, Kathryn Andersen Clark, Seth Brody
Women & Health 2002, 35 (2-3): 149-63

OBJECTIVES: Most studies of pregnant victims of intimate partner violence have focused on the violent behaviors, without examining other potentially important dimensions of the relationships. This research studies pregnant abuse victims to examine the frequency of violent behaviors occurring during pregnancy, how women characterize the quality of their relationships, and the association between violence frequency and women's perceptions concerning the overall quality of their relationships.

METHODS: Eighty-one women who were physically abused by intimate partners during pregnancy were interviewed. Information was collected concerning the women's: experiences of partner violence during pregnancy; perceptions of other aspects of the quality of their relationships; and sociodemographic characteristics.

RESULTS: The most frequent type of violent behavior occurring during pregnancy was verbal aggression, followed by minor violence, and then severe violence. Men perpetrated each type of violent behavior at significantly higher rates than did their female partners. In general, the women were quite negative in their characterizations of many dimensions of their relationships, as well as in their perceptions concerning the overall quality of their relationships, with women who had been victims of more frequent violence being significantly more likely to characterize their relationships as being of lower overall quality (OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.4-8.7).

CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal care providers are encouraged to screen their patients for intimate partner violence, and to work with others in their community to assure that women in abusive situations are offered appropriate services/interventions including safe and feasible alternatives to staying in unsatisfactory relationships with abusive partners.

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