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 relationship there may be different reasons for having a baby.
- You may think a baby will bring you closer together.
- You may think a partner will change their behaviour for the better if you have a baby.
- 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.
In a controlling relationship abuse can get much worse during a pregnancy as a baby can be seen by an abuser as a threat. In some cases the abuse can become physical where it may not have been before. It is not uncommon for the tummy, breasts or genitals to become an abusers target and to be punched or kicked. An expectant mother may also be prevented from attending antenatal appointments as an abuser will not want professionals such as nurses spending time alone with her.
Once born, a baby can become another target for the abuse. They may be used as a tool to abuse the mother.
Your safety and that of your unborn baby or young child is of the utmost importance. If you are worried and 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)
- C-Card (free condoms)
- 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. If you are under 18, you can access the services and this would not need to be discussed with your family or GP unless there was a concern for your safety. 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.