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Young Women's Acknowledgment of Reproductive Coercion: A Qualitative Analysis

Sylvie Lévesque, Catherine Rousseau
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2019 April 11, : 886260519842169
Reproductive coercion (RC) is a form of violence perpetuated against women. It occurs when male partners adopt behaviors meant to control a woman's birth control or pregnancy despite her wishes. This amounts to interference with a woman's autonomy in reproductive decisions. The three main forms of RC are birth control sabotage (including nonconsensual condom removal), pregnancy coercion, and controlling the outcome of a pregnancy. This qualitative exploratory study examines issues in the acknowledgment of RC. Participants were 21 young women in Québec (Canada), who had experienced this form of violence. Results of individual semi-directed interviews reveal that RC can be difficult to acknowledge. A thematic analysis demonstrates that awareness is modulated by the manifestations of RC and by the emotional bond with the perpetrator. Acknowledgment of RC behavior varies according to the form that is experienced: Nonconsensual condom removal is the most readily identified, whereas acknowledgment of pregnancy pressure and pregnancy coercion takes longer, requiring repeated incidents before it is identified as a form of violence. In addition, acknowledgment is facilitated when relationships are casual and uncommitted compared with romantic and committed. Moreover, reading about the issue, confiding in a friend or acquaintance, and finding a new partner who respects one's reproductive rights facilitate RC acknowledgment. In contrast, not self-identifying as a victim, assuming responsibility for the incident, having a limited understanding of sexual violence, and experiencing other forms of violence with an intimate partner contribute to impede RC acknowledgment. Results are discussed in terms of practical implications for young adults and health care professionals.


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