Are you in an abusive relationship? Help is available

Abuse can be emotional or physical and is never okay. Almost 1 in 6 pregnant women have been abused by a partner and abuse often gets worse during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center receives emails from pregnant women concerned about abuse. One woman was receiving threats from her ex-boyfriend. He told her if she called the police, he would hurt her other children. Another woman said she had been hit in the stomach and was concerned that her baby had been hurt. A third woman said her boyfriend didn’t want her to have the baby and threatened to throw her down the stairs.

These are not stories. They are real.

Emotional abuse can come in many different forms: name calling, blaming you for something you haven’t done, controlling your behavior or telling you what you should be doing. Physical abuse can include hitting, clapping, kicking, choking, pushing or even pulling your hair. And sometimes, an abuser will aim these blows at a pregnant woman’s belly. This kind of violence not only can harm you, but it also can put your unborn baby in grave danger. Physical abuse can lead to miscarriage and vaginal bleeding. It can cause your baby to be born too soon, have low birthweight or physical injuries.

Are you in an abusive relationship? Ask yourself:

  • Does my partner always put me down and make me feel bad about myself?
  • Has my partner caused harm or pain to my body?
  • Does my partner threaten me, the baby, my other children or himself?
  • Does my partner blame me for his actions? Does he tell me it’s my own fault he hit me?
  • Is my partner becoming more violent as time goes on?
  • Has my partner promised never to hurt me again, but still does?

What can you do?

Help is available.

  • Call the national domestic violence hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or (800) 787-3224 TTY or 9-1-1.
  • Recognize you are in an abusive relationship and tell someone you trust. They may be able to put you in touch with a domestic violence program or hotline, shelter or safe haven for abused women.
  • Find a safe place – with a friend, neighbor or family member.
  • Put together some extra cash and important documents or items such as a driver’s license, health insurance cards, bank account information, social security cards and prescription medications.
  • Pack a bag; include toiletries, extra change of clothes for you and your children, and an extra set of house and car keys and give this bag to someone you trust to hold it for you safely.

Remember: No one deserves to be physically or emotionally abused. Recognize the signs of abuse and seek help. You might feel very scared at the thought of leaving, but you’ve got to do it. You and your baby’s life depends on it.