Prevalence of domestic violence among women seeking abortion services

Womens Health Issues. 1996 Jul-Aug;6(4):204-10. doi: 10.1016/1049-3867(95)00012-7.


PIP: Interviews with 51 consecutive women presenting to the University of North Carolina's abortion clinic over a two-month period in 1994 confirmed the hypothesis that this population has experienced an above-average incidence of domestic violence. 31.4% of the abortion seekers reported a lifetime history of physical or sexual abuse; 21.6% of these women had been abused in the prior calendar year and 7.8% had experienced abuse during the current pregnancy (none for the first time). 54.5% of women with a self-reported lifetime history of abuse had witnessed domestic violence in their family of origin and 36.4% had been abused as a child. The interviews further revealed that 70% of abused women had experienced the standard cycle of domestic violence involving tension building, acute battering, and contrition phases. Although 80% of battered women were aware of community resources, they were unlikely to use them. Prior studies of domestic violence in obstetric populations have identified prevalences of 11-24%; some of this variability is likely attributable to women's reluctance to acknowledge abuse. Overall, these findings indicate that a lifetime or current history of domestic violence should be considered a risk factor for abuse during pregnancy. Regardless of her decision regarding the outcome of the pregnancy, a pregnant woman with such a history should be offered counseling about an exit plan, safety issues, and community resources.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion Applicants / psychology
  • Abortion Applicants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control
  • Domestic Violence / psychology
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Personality Development
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology