Ellen Knox, Perinatal Institute - December 2001
Why is it a health
1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence during
their lifetime (1).
Many cases start or escalate during pregnancy (2). Violence
may take the form of physical, sexual or psychological
abuse and the perpetrator seeks control over their
victim, which may result in isolation from the outside
world. The health service may be their only point of
contact and chance to disclose. However it takes an
average of 35 episodes of violence before help is sought
and most women will only volunteer information if asked
directly (3, 4).
In addition to the obvious distress caused, domestic
violence causes miscarriage, premature delivery, low
birth weight, abruption, stillbirth and MATERNAL DEATH
12% of all the women whose deaths were included in
the 1997-99 confidential enquiry had self declared
that they were subject to violence in the home. (5).
1. Home Office (1999). Domestic Violence: Findings
from a new British Crime Survey self-completion questionnaire.
2. Mezey G C (1997) Domestic violence in pregnancy.
Chapter 21 in Bewley S, Friend J and Mezey G (Eds).
3. Yearnshire S (1997) Analysis of Cohort. Chapter
5 in Bewley S, Friend J and Mezey G (Eds).
4. Mezey G, Bacchus L, Haworth A, Bewley S. 2000.
An exploration of the prevalence, nature and effect
of domestic violence in pregnancy. ESRC study. www.rhbnc.ac.uk/sociopolitical-science/vrp/
5. Why Mothers Die 1997-1999. Confidential Enquiries
Into Maternal Deaths 2001. Published RCOG press. Available
on line www.cemach.org.uk