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Battered women, Domestic violence, Pregnancy in adolescence, Nursing research



  1. Renker, Paula Rinard PhD, RNC


Purpose: To explore adolescents' experiences of abuse in the year before and during pregnancy.


Methods: This prospective study used structured and focused interviews and content analysis. Forty teens' stories of abuse were extracted from focused interview questions during a larger study of pregnant adolescents aged 18 to 20. Elements of the stories were coded and categorized according to content and meaning. Seven themes were identified using a generalized qualitative approach that blended content and thematic analysis.


Results: Teens reported abuse from a variety of individuals, including intimate partners, former partners, and family members. Thirteen of the 40 teens reported being pregnant in the year before the index pregnancy, with 11 of the pregnancies ending in miscarriage, elective abortion, or fetal demise. Four of the pregnancy losses were directly attributed to abuse. Seven themes were identified that reflected the teens' stories of violence: seeking safety (self-protection with risks and benefits); losing faith (negative experiences with police and social justice institutions); experiencing loss (compromised reproductive health); living on the edge (substance abuse concerns); taking the next step (developmental concerns); crying out for help (suicide attempts); and changing and temporary relationships (loss of family bonds and serial monogamy).


Clinical Implications: Routine screening for violence prior to and during pregnancy should include questions about past pregnancies, sexual abuse, and multiple perpetrators, as well as perpetrators other than intimate partners. Adolescent developmental concerns should be incorporated in safety planning and advocacy interventions.