For couples living in a healthy relationship, the decision to start a family is usually made together and is something to look forward to.

In an abusive or controlling relationship there may be different reasons for having a baby.

  • You may think a baby will bring you closer together.
  • You may think they will change their behaviour for the better with a baby around.
  • You may think a baby will be someone who will need you and love you unconditionally.
  • You may not be allowed to use contraception and the choice is not yours to make.

Often abuse can start or get worse during a pregnancy as the baby can be seen as a threat.

It is not uncommon for a woman's tummy, breasts or genitals to become the target of violence and to be punched or kicked. An expectant mum can also be prevented from attending ante-natal appointments until the very end of the pregnancy. 

Once born, a baby can become another target for the abuse and may be used as a tool to abuse you emotionally or psychologically. As well as keeping yourself safe, you may find that you also need to look for ways of protecting your child. Think about keeping safe by looking at the safety planning page.

Your safety and that of your unborn baby or young child is important.  If you are worried can do so safely, speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor who can signpost you to support.

Devon Sexual Health provide sexual health services that support healthy relationships and sexual wellbeing. The sexual health and contraception services are confidential – even for those aged under 16 years old. No-one can access patient records apart from staff working in the clinics. Check out Devon Sexual Health for more information and to find out where you can access services.  Services provided include:

  • STI testing and treatment
  • All contraception (including emergency contraception)
  • Termination of Pregnancy, including free confidential support and counselling
  • Other support and advice

If you are pregnant and this wasn't planned and you are not sure what you want to do, you can talk in confidence to Marie Stopes.  Marie Stopes is a national organisation that specialises in treatment, advice and support for anyone considering abortion. 98% of abortions carried out at Marie Stopes clinics in the UK are funded by the NHS. Self funded treatment and support is also available.


If you feel you are in immediate danger always call the police on 999