9 Victims of Crime
9.1 Women experience gender-based violence throughout the lifecycle. Research highlights an increase in physical abuse, and particularly domestic violence, during pregnancy and early maternity74.
9.2 Research from 201275, based on previous estimates, claims that pregnant women face an "increased risk" of domestic abuse, with domestic abuse 'estimated to occur in 5% to 21% of pre-birth cases and in 13% to 21% of post-birth cases' (p. 137). Evidence from Scotland and across the UK indicates that 'abuse often starts in pregnancy and gets worse when the first child is new-born'76. The frequency and intensity of domestic abuse can increase over the duration of the relationship with the perpetrator, and at specific times including during pregnancy, following the birth of a child, or during separation or divorce77.
9.3 Research has suggested a need for interventions in antenatal care, including lone examinations and appropriate questioning by midwives78. This is emphasised in the triennial review of maternal deaths in the UK by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE)79. Similar recommendations for interventions, counselling, and mentoring are identified in research from other countries including Sweden80 and Northern Ireland81.
9.4 The CMACE study showed that in the period 2006-2008, 261 women in the UK died of causes directly or indirectly related to pregnancy (p.1). Thirty-four women who died during pregnancy "exhibited signs of domestic abuse" (p.146). Eleven of the women were murdered, seven by their partners. Five of them were too early in their pregnancy to be booked in to antenatal care, so there had been no opportunity to assess them for domestic abuse (pp.146-147). Using the CMACE data, Leneghan et al. (2012)82 observe that 13% of the women had reported domestic abuse at an earlier point in their pregnancy, suggesting the importance of lone examination and questioning by midwives during antenatal care (p.137).
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