Intimate Partner Violence

Abuse is never okay. And it often gets worse during pregnancy.

What is abuse? Abuse can be:

  • Sexual
  • Physical: hitting, kicking or pushing you
  • Emotional: yelling at you, scaring you or calling you names

Living in an abusive relationship can harm you and your baby. Your baby could be physically injured, or you could miscarry or have preterm labor. Each year, about 324,000 pregnant women in this country are battered by their intimate partners. That makes abuse more common for pregnant women than gestational diabetes or preeclampsia conditions for which pregnant women are routinely screened.

Women with unplanned pregnancies have a 2-4 times greater risk for violence than women whose pregnancies were planned.

Homicide is the leading cause of pregnancy-associated deaths in Maryland. A significant number of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.

Pregnant women who are abused by their partners have a higher risk for tobacco, alcohol and substance use disorder, depression and suicide attempts, all of which have negative effects on the developing fetus.

Domestic violence is linked to a wide range of reproductive health issues including sexually transmitted disease and HIV transmission, miscarriages and risky sexual health behavior. Other chronic health problems can worsen.

Complications of pregnancy, including low weight gain, anemia, infections and first and second trimester bleeding are significantly higher for abused women.

If you are being abused, know that you are not alone. Nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a partner at some point in their lives.

What you can do?

If you are in a relationship where you are in danger of being harmed, get help. Call a hotline or ask your health care provider or another trusted person to help you make a plan. You might be feeling very scared at the thought of leaving, but you’ve got to do it for yourself and your baby.

Domestic Violence Helplines

Statewide 1-800-MD-HELPS (800-634-3577)
National 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)