Objective: To identify strategies adolescents use to cope with and keep safe from perinatal violence.
Design: Exploratory descriptive design incorporating qualitative content analysis. A semistructured interview guide was used to inquire about coping strategies.
Sample: 20 nonpregnant teenagers between the ages of 18 and 20 years who experienced violence before, during, or after a prior pregnancy, regardless of outcome, were recruited for this study from community advertising and two outpatient gynecologic clinics.
Results: The teenagers described experiences of rape, stalking, and physical and sexual violence. They identified perpetrators as family members, nonintimate social acquaintances, and male and female intimate partners. Five themes were identified that described the teenagers' experiences with "Keeping Safe," including Losing Ground: Moving Backward; Minimizing Damage: Decreasing the Impact and the Severity of Violence; Keeping Away: Drawing Inward and Moving On; Getting Help: Reaching Out to Others; and Taking Charge: Being Proactive.
Conclusions: The teenagers were actively engaged in developing creative strategies to minimize stress and the severity of violence in their lives. They also incorporated maladaptive behaviors that further increased their jeopardy. Asking about the ways that teenagers deal with violence might assist health care workers to proactively minimize damage from ineffective coping mechanisms.