Domestic Violence in Pregnancy -What we know!
Domestic violence during pregnancy can have fatal or long term consequences for both mother and baby. In England and Wales, 1:4 women has experienced at least one incident of this type of domestic violence since the age of 16; approximately 1:3 occurs in pregnancy and 1 million women a year experience at least one incident of domestic violence and two women a week are killed by their current or former partner.
Consequences of domestic violence in pregnancy!
Domestic violence by a partner or ex-partner can directly affect the growing fetus, through physical or sexual trauma, or indirectly due to increased maternal stress, inadequate nutrition and poor prenatal care (Donovan et al,2015).
Domestic violence already brings up a range of emotions for you, including feeling anxious or stressed. Add pregnancy to this can the effects can be long term for you and your baby. Research has identified that domestic violence doubled the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. This risk was increased further for women who experienced two or more types of domestic violence during their pregnancy.
In December 2019, a novel Coronavirus (later called COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation) caused an outbreak in Wuhan China which has since spread world wide through respiratory tract and can induce pneumonia. In the UK on March 16th, pregnant women were included in the high risk group of people who should take precautions to avoid being infected with coronavirus.
In addition to this, on March the 23rd the Prime Mister summoned a National lock down which resulted in a number of people losing their jobs and those fortunate to still be employed; were advised to work from home (apart from NHS workers) and avoid unnecessary travel.
What does this mean?
This can cause increased stress, anxieties and further abuse from abusers who now might be self isolation or also working from home with the pregnant victim. The government acknowledges that recent measures announced to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), such as the order to stay at home, can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse.
-If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police - the police will continue to respond to emergency calls.
-If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999, and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.
Where to seek help!
If you believe you are being abused, or worried you may commit domestic abuse, please use the following services which can help you.
If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of domestic abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police - the police will continue to respond to emergency calls
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.
National Domestic Abuse Helpline
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. They can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. The website also has a form through which women can book a safe time for a call from the team.
Women’s Aid has provided additional advice specifically designed for the current COVID-19 outbreak, including a live chat service.
Men’s Advice Line
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 801 0327.
Galop - for members of the LGBT+ community
If you are concerned about how COVID-19 may affect your finances and leave you vulnerable to economic abuse, please see the advice provided by HM Treasury on what support is on offer. The charity Surviving Economic Abuse has also provided additional guidance and support.
Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.
Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages, ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.