Domestic abuse can have serious implications for pregnant individuals and their unborn baby. The combination of pregnancy and domestic abuse creates a complex and potentially dangerous situation that can have both immediate and long-term effects.
While pregnancy does not directly cause domestic abuse, it can sometimes serve as a trigger or exacerbate existing abusive behaviours within a relationship.
The reasons behind this correlation can vary, but here are some factors that can contribute to the escalation of domestic abuse during pregnancy:
Increased stress: Pregnancy brings significant physical, emotional, and financial changes, which can increase stress levels for both partners. This added stress can intensify existing tensions within the relationship and potentially lead to an escalation of abusive behaviours.
Power and control dynamics: Domestic abuse is often rooted in power and control. The abuser may perceive the pregnancy as a threat to their control over the relationship or feel a loss of power due to the attention and focus on the pregnant individual. This can trigger an increase in abusive behaviours as a means to regain control.
Jealousy and possessiveness: Some abusers may become jealous or possessive during pregnancy, perceiving the attention and care given to the pregnant individual as a threat to their own status within the relationship. This jealousy can manifest as increased control, monitoring, or isolation tactics.
Changing roles and expectations: Pregnancy can shift the dynamics of the relationship and create new expectations for both partners. This change in roles and responsibilities can lead to conflict and tension, especially if the abuser feels threatened or unwilling to adapt to these changes.
Unresolved issues and unresolved trauma: Pregnancy can bring unresolved issues or trauma to the surface, which can contribute to an increase in domestic abuse. For example, an abuser may have unresolved childhood trauma or issues related to parenthood that are triggered by the impending arrival of a baby.
It is important to note that while pregnancy can be a triggering factor, it is never the fault of the pregnant individual. Domestic abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser, and no circumstance justifies or excuses abusive behaviour. Pregnant individuals experiencing abuse should seek support and safety for themselves and their unborn child through available resources such as hotlines, shelters, and counselling services.
There are several charities working to support people experiencing domestic violence that can provide temporary housing, confidential helplines offering emotional and practical support, and advocacy services.
Here are a few, to turn to if you need help:
Women’s Aid has been developing policy and supporting UK women for more than 45 years. The charity can provide temporary housing, offers an online live chat, a forum to speak with other women who have survived domestic abuse, email links to support workers and a survivor’s handbook for help navigating life after experiencing domestic violence.
Refuge opened the world’s first safe house for women and children fleeing domestic abuse in 1971, in West London’s Chiswick. Since then, the charity has grown into the UK’s biggest service provider for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, supporting more than 6,000 women and children per day.
Available 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, those in need can freephone Refuge’s national helpline on 0808 2000 247 or seek support online.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is a freephone 24 hour helpline which provides advice and support to women and can refer them to emergency accommodation.
With a string of independent centres across the UK, Rape Crisis provides support for survivors of sexual violence, and works to develop common understanding of abuse in all its forms.
Visit the charity’s website to be directed to your nearest centre, to find resources about escaping abuse, or to chat online with an expert.
Galop, run by LGBT+ people for LGBT+ people, supports those in the community who have experienced abuse, sexual violence and hate crimes.
They provide support over the phone and advocacy services for people who need assistance long-term, as well as campaigning for policy change to protect LGBT+ survivors of abuse.
Southall Black Sisters, created in 1979 to support Black and ethnic minority women, campaigns against gender-based violence and supports survivors.
Their advice and resource centre is based in West London – though the charity’s work has a national reach – providing counselling, specialist advice, advocacy, casework and other support in several languages found in the local community.
Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline, email and webchat service for men who are survivors of domestic abuse. The charity offers non-judgmental emotional support and practical advice as well as signposting to other services which will help protect men and their children from further abuse.
Solace Women’s Aid offers free advice and support to women and children in London to build safe and strong lives. The charity offers accommodation, advice and support, rape crisis service, tailored services for young women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds and therapeutic services. You can contact them on 0808 802 5565 if you need help.
Karma Nirvana is a specialist charity for victims and survivors of honour-based abuse in the UK. Honour-based abuse is a crime committed to protect or defend the ‘honour’ of a family or community.
According to the charity, it can take many forms – including child marriage, virginity testing, enforced abortion, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, as well as physical, sexual and economic abuse and coercive control.
The charity was founded by Dr Jasvinder Sanghera, who escaped a forced marriage at 15 and tragically lost her sister to honour-based abuse. You can reach the helpline on 0800 5999 247.
Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors (Flows) is a legal support service to help protect women against domestic abuse. Its team of experts can help you to consider your options and it’s entirely confidential and fully independent. You can access the services online, on the phone or in person in your local area.
You can use this interactive map to find advice agencies or legal aid family solicitors. These organisations – which include law centres, Citizens Advice bureaus, women’s refuges and charities – are all part of the Flows network.
The ManKind Initiative has a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence across the UK. It provides information, support and signposting. Call 01823 334244 to speak to their team confidentially.
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Hourglass gives advice and support to older people who are victims of abuse and exploitation in the UK. It is the country’s only charity focused on the abuse and neglect of older people. You can call the helpline on 08088088141, text 07860052906, email email@example.com or use the online chat function.
The National Stalking Helpline is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. The charity was founded following the disappearance of 25-year-old Suzy Lamplugh in 1986. The helpline can provide advice on how to deal with any type of stalking behaviour, including how to contact the police and what to expect when you report something. You can reach them on 0808 802 0300.
SignHealth is a charity supporting deaf people across the UK, with a specialist domestic abuse service. It is the only domestic abuse service that specialises in supporting deaf people. The team currently works in London and the south-east but offers remote support across England. Text 07800 003421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help.