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Our Turn: Reproduction Coercion is IPV

Intimate partner violence affects an estimated 10 million people in the United States each year. According to the Center for Disease Control, almost nine percent of women in the United States reported having an intimate partner who tried to get them pregnant when they did not want to or refused to use a condom. This alarming statistic significantly impacts women physically, emotionally, and financially and is often referred to as reproductive coercion.

Abusive tactics in an intimate relationship can take many forms in reproductive coercion. It can look like a variety of things including birth control sabotage, pregnancy pressure (physical or verbal threats when a person does not wish to become pregnant), and pregnancy coercion (“I didn’t have a choice;” “they said this was the only way we could be a real family”). For example, an abusive partner may tamper with or prevent access to birth control or refuse to allow their victim to access appropriate medical care to further isolate the person they are controlling. This type of control is an abusive tactic but is often underreported and under-recognized not only by people experiencing it but also by healthcare providers and emergency responders. For many survivors of domestic violence, pregnancy can be an unpredictable or fearful time.

Pregnant women are twice as likely to die from homicide (which is often linked to domestic violence) than from any pregnancy-related health condition. In fact, homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the US. Experts in both healthcare and violence prevention overwhelmingly agree that restrictions placed on access to quality, affordable healthcare care put more women at risk, as intimate domestic violence increases during pregnancy. Young women and marginalized women face even more acute risks.

Turning Points Network advocates are here to help support anyone who has experienced reproductive coercion, or any other form of intimate partner violence. Those who work with TPN will find safety and respect as they explore their options. From peer counseling to court advocacy and emergency housing, TPN is here.

OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN), serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and sex trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move toward living with respect, healing, and hope that we all deserve. We can be reached 24/7 on our crisis and support line at 1.800.639.3130. Between 9-4 Monday-Friday, we are available on our chatline at www.turningpointsnetwork.org or by text at 603.506.6553.

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