According to the nation’s leading obstetricians and gynecologists, “reproductive and sexual coercion” — behavior intended to maintain power and control in a sexual relationship — is, sadly, not uncommon.
While homicide is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports that many abused adolescent girls and women are also the subject of another, lesser-known form of abuse: “contraception sabotage,” the most common form of reproductive coercion.
In a just-released committee opinion ACOG notes that victims of such abuse have “male partners who intentionally sabotage their contraception, deliberately give them sexually transmitted infections, or force them into having unwanted pregnancies or abortions.” This type of “reproductive coercion” says ACOG, can even go as far as male partners “forcefully remove intrauterine devices (IUDs) and vaginal rings, poke holes in condoms, or destroy birth control pills.”
Sexual coercion includes a range of behavior that a partner may use related to sexual decision making to pressure or coerce a person to have sex without using physical force. This behavior includes repeatedly pressuring a partner to have sex, threatening to end a relationship if the person does not have sex, forcing sex without a condom or not allowing other prophylaxis use, intentionally exposing a partner to a sexually transmitted infection, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or threatening retaliation if notified of a positive STI test result. Continue reading
By Annie Brewster
At 44, Karin had a successful career and three nearly-grown children. Then, in 2004, she began a relationship that at first felt dreamy but slowly deteriorated. Eventually, Karin found herself in a position she never imagined: as the victim of domestic violence. Initially, her partner seemed lovely. He was a respected member of her community, well known for his dedication to volunteer work and he was amazingly attentive and romantic. Over time, though, the relationship changed. It was a gradual progression spanning four years, starting with emotional and psychological abuse, and eventually escalating to physical abuse.
Here, Karin bravely shares her story of surviving domestic violence.
It’s a narrative that illustrates how insidious this process can be, and how difficult it is to get out of such relationships. As a survivor, Karin has struggled with her own shame and the guilt she feels for exposing her children to this situation. Today, after a lot of hard work and self-reflection, Karin feels stronger than ever. “I was determined to come out of this kicking,” she said. “And I have.” She has a great job and volunteers for a domestic violence prevention organization; her grown children are doing well and she is newly married. Karin’s story is a reminder that this could happen to any of us, and underscores the importance of trusting your own instinct about what feels right and what feels wrong in a relationship.
Karin was earning six figures and living in a wealthy Boston suburb when she became the victim of domestic abuse.
Domestic violence, defined by the United States Department of Justice “as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner” permeates our culture. It is estimated that at least 1 in 4 women in the United states will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, Continue reading