Many times, when we talk about domestic violence and sexual assault we hear about verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. When sexual abuse is discussed it is usually attributed to rape or sexual assault. Earlier this month we talked about how financial abuse is a form of domestic violence, which even though it occurs in 99% of victims is lesser known than other types of abuse. Today we are going to discuss another lesser known form of exerting abusive power and control over a partner: Reproductive Coercion.
According to a 2011 study done by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, of the 3,000 people surveyed, 25% reported that they were victims of what is known as Reproductive Coercion. Reproductive Coercion is defined as a form of domestic violence (AKA intimate partner violence) where behavior concerning reproductive health is used to maintain power, control, and domination within a relationship and over a partner through an unwanted pregnancy.
So what does reproductive coercion or birth control tampering look like?
-Refusal to wear a condom or take birth control
-Breaking or Removing a Condom during intercourse on purpose
-Lying about their methods of birth control (claiming to have had a vasectomy when they have not; not being on the pill when they said they were)
-Purposefully passing on STI’s to their partner
-Tampering with birth control pills either by flushing them, damaging them, or poking holes in condoms
-Forcing their partner to get an abortion or preventing them from getting one
-Continually keeping their partner pregnant
-Monitoring their partner’s menstrual cycle
-Removing an IUD or ring
In 2013 another study took place in Rhode Island when an OBGYN noticed many of her patients were getting pregnant after they had requested birth control. The physician surveyed 641 patients and learned that 16% were pressured into pregnancy in some form or another, mostly through destruction of their birth control methods or tampering with their birth control methods.
Reproductive Coercion can happen to anyone. It is a way to maintain power and control over one’s partner and is usually just one aspect of the abuse occurring at home. Unfortunately, the resulting pregnancy can then become one of the most dangerous times in a woman’s life, especially if she is in an abusive relationship.
1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
1 in 7 report experiencing birth control sabotage at some point in their life
1 in 5 women report that their partners pressured them into getting pregnant
What can you do? Always start by believing. If you or someone you know has had their birth control tampered with, provide them with our Crisis Line number at 940-382-7273 or toll free at 800-572-4031. OBGYN’s are also here to help, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. We can help provide you with the resources you may need through our free Advocacy, Counseling, and Legal services. You are not alone.
National Domestic Violence Hotline