Violence against women is a significant and disturbing problem which affects women around the world, including those who are pregnant or postpartum. Although numerous studies from around the globe agree that violence is a common problem among pregnant women, estimates of the prevalence of this violence vary considerably. Most prevalence studies examining violence during pregnancy have focused on physical violence. A 2010 review of 18 studies (including studies from Canada, China, England, Hong Kong, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and the U.S.) found that 1% to 30% of pregnant women experienced physical violence during pregnancy, with most estimates being between 3% and 11% (Taillieu & Brownridge, 2010). Although these estimates of the prevalence of physical violence during pregnancy vary, it is clear that a significant number of women experience physical violence during pregnancy.
Less is known about the prevalence of other types of violence during pregnancy, such as emotional or sexual violence. Although estimates concerning emotional and sexual violence during pregnancy vary, there does appear to be a common pattern: the prevalence of emotional violence is generally greater than the prevalence of physical violence, whereas the prevalence of sexual violence is generally less than the prevalence of physical violence (Perales et al., 2008). Fewer studies have estimated the prevalence of violence during the postpartum period, with most of these studies finding a lower prevalence of violence during the nine months of pregnancy than during the first 12 months postpartum.
Risk Factors for Violence