No one ever deserves to be beaten, threatened, raped and insulted. However, nowhere is domestic violence more stark or disturbing than during pregnancy. Women's Aid is deeply concerned about the prevalence of abuse of women during pregnancy and the post-natal period.
Pregnancy does not offer protection to domestic violence. In fact, international research has found that 30% of women who experience domestic violence are physically assaulted for the first time during pregnancy (Child Protection and Welfare Handbook, HSE, 2011).
The Rotunda Hospital conducted research which found that 1 in 8 women surveyed were being abused during their current pregnancy (O'Donnell et all, 2000).
In 2016, Women's Aid heard 195 disclosures of assaults of women who were pregnant at the time. We heard from women who were beaten and raped while they were pregnant, which often resulted in miscarriage. We also heard from pregnant women whose abuser deliberately pushed them against their stomach, women who were raped following child birth and women who were beaten while holding their baby.
These tactics can extend beyond pregnancy into the Post-natal period and can include women not being allowed, or being forced to give up breastfeeding, pre-mature removal of stitches, and women being beaten while holding and trying to protect their baby.
Click here to find out more about the effects of domestic violence on women and newborn infants.
We are delighted that the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street are taking part in this year's 16 Days of Action campaign and raising awareness around the campus on domestic abuse and pregnancy and the support on offer to women affected.
If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these forms of abuse, you can call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 7 days a week. We will listen, believe and support you.