1. Oweis, Arwa

Article Content

Lutz, K. (2005). Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 34(2), 151-162.

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Intimate partner abuse (IPA) during pregnancy is a problem for the woman who is abused and for the healthcare providers she interfaces with during the course of pregnancy. Although considerable knowledge exists on the correlates and consequences of abuse during pregnancy, little is known about when, how, and why pregnant women decide to disclose current IPA to healthcare providers, and what responses they prefer from healthcare providers after IPA disclosure. This qualitative study explored how IPA during pregnancy influences women's decisions about seeking care and disclosing abuse, and their preferences for healthcare professionals' responses. Twenty-one in-depth interviews were conducted with 12 ethnically and socio-demographically diverse participants over a 12-month period. Participants were recruited from two prenatal clinics in an urban Pacific Northwest area and were interviewed in their homes, at their prenatal clinic, at a hospital, and at the investigator's office.


Findings indicated that a woman who is abused during pregnancy hesitates to reveal the abuse by her intimate partner because she fears public scrutiny and the stigma of being considered an abused woman. Because she is pregnant, she is often unable or unwilling to end an abusive relationship. Women are embarrassed by the abuse and feel considerable shame for their partner's behavior as well as for their own involvement with the abuse. The authors encourage nurses to understand the complex reality of living in an abusive relationship during pregnancy and recognize that women do not participate in their own abuse. Appreciating and acknowledging the conflict between the private and public life of an abused pregnant woman is imperative. It is also essential that healthcare providers recognize the dynamic nature of IPA, know about IPA resources, be comfortable screening for IPA, and have a plan of care to respond to abuse disclosure.


Arwa Oweis