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Violence and Pregnancy: Are Pregnant Women at Greater Risk of Abuse?

Richard J. Gelles
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 50, No. 3 (Aug., 1988), pp. 841-847
DOI: 10.2307/352652
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352652
Page Count: 7
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Violence and Pregnancy: Are Pregnant Women at Greater Risk of Abuse?
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Abstract

A number of investigators have suggested that women experience violence and abuse at unusually high rates during pregnancy. This study examines whether pregnant women are at special risk of being victimized by their husbands and partners. The analysis is based on data from the Second National Family Violence Survey, in which telephone interviews were conducted with individuals in 6,002 nationally representative households. Violence and abuse were measured with the Conflict Tactics Scales. Pregnant women were found to experience minor, severe, and overall violence at higher rates. However, when age was controlled, this relationship was found to be spurious. The findings indicate that women under 25 years of age are both more likely to be pregnant and to be hit and abused by husbands and partners. Although pregnant women are not a specially vulnerable group, pregnancy also does not insulate them from the high rates of violence experienced by young women. Intervention and prevention strategies still need to be developed to protect pregnant women and their unborn children.

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