Abuse and revictimization in adulthood in multiple sclerosis: a cross-sectional study during pregnancy

J Neurol. 2022 Jul 3. doi: 10.1007/s00415-022-11249-x. Online ahead of print.


Background: Knowledge concerning exposure to abuse in adulthood and in pregnancy in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) is sparse.

Objective: To determine the occurrence of adult abuse and abuse in relation to pregnancy in women with MS and their risk of revictimization (repeated abuse as adults after childhood abuse).

Methods: This cross-sectional study comprised pregnant women from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort study. Information on abuse was acquired through self-completed questionnaires. We used logistic regression to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: We identified 106 women with MS at enrollment through linkage with national health registries. The reference group consisted of 77,278 women without MS. Twenty-seven women (26%) with MS reported any adult abuse compared to 15,491 women (20%) without MS, aOR 1.33 (0.85-2.09). Twenty-two (21%) women with MS reported systematic emotional abuse compared to 13% without MS, aOR 1.75 (1.08-2.83). Ten women (10%) with MS reported sexual abuse, compared to 6% without MS, aOR 1.72 (0.89-3.33). More women with MS reported rape as an adult, aOR 2.37 (1.02-5.49). Women with MS had higher risk of revictimization as adults, after childhood abuse, aOR 2.23 (1.22-4.10). The risk of abuse during pregnancy or 6 months preceding pregnancy was similar between the groups.

Conclusions: Women with MS had increased occurrence of systematic emotional abuse, rape, and revictimization as adults, compared to women without MS.

Keywords: MoBa; Revictimization; The Medical Birth Registry of Norway; The Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort study; Violence.