Are You Pregnant? You and Your Baby Deserve To Be Safe: Violence during and after pregnancy

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Pregnancy can be a beautiful moment in the life of a woman and her partner.  However, if the pregnancy is not wanted, if there are economic or immigration problems, it creates pressure and stress on the relationship.  Often women do not have family or social support they would have in their countries of origin.  Especially as women, we find ourselves emotionally and physically vulnerable, and we can feel very frightened, unsafe and lonely.

In spite of these problems, nobody has the right to harm us physically, emotionally, sexually or financially. Violence is not acceptable at anytime in your life!

Do You Feel Safe?

Violence has many faces...studies show that violence towards women frequently starts or worsens during pregnancy.

Women suffer emotional abuse

When your partner blames you for:

  • being responsible for the pregnancy
  • being unfaithful
  • having a baby that is not his
  • not wanting to have sex

When he:

  • insults you and yells at you
  • says you are ugly and fat and calls you names
  • refuses to give you food or threatens to beat you
  • stops you from seeing your family and friends
  • stops you from seeing the doctor, midwife or nurse by yourself, or at all

Women also suffer physical/sexual abuse

When your partner:

  • forces you to have sex or touches you without your consent
  • beats you in the womb, breasts, abdomen or in your genital areas
  • locks you in the house/closet
  • attacks you with a dangerous object

Abuse Does Not Stop When The Baby Is Born

Effects of violence

On you:

  • feeling anxious, depressed, insecure
  • destroys your self-esteem
  • unable to sleep, lack of appetite
  • migraines, irreparable physical injuries, continuous pain in the back, head, hips
  • use of anti-depressants, alcohol, tobacco, street drugs
  • it can cause internal bleeding
  • it can lead to death

It can harm your baby:

  • rupture of the placenta
  • premature birth
  • premature rupture of membranes, increasing the risk of infection
  • hemorrhages in the fetus
    still birth
  • miscarriage
  • rupture of bones of the baby
  • low weight of the baby at birth
  • physical and emotional problems which affect the mother/child relationship

Some of the things you can do to protect yourself

To leave abuse or relationship can be very difficult for many women.  However, there are some things you can do:

  • Tell someone what is going on, choose the person you trust the most, your doctor, a counselor, or nurse
  • Look for support from your family members, your friends, or shelter for women
  • Make a plan to escape in case of emergency
  • Have your passport or other immigration documents handy
  • Have ready essential things such as medicines, money, keys, bankbook, etc.
  • If you have children, bring their clothes, their favorite toys, medicine, etc.

There are Centers and Shelters that offer services in your own language.

Break the silence. Ask for help!

This brochure is a project of the Latin American Coalition to And Violence (LACEV) on behalf of Partnership Against Abuse. Cultural translation funded by Health Canada, through the Parkdale Parents' Primary Prevention Project, St. Joseph's Women's Health Centre.