Physical and emotional abuse against women and can affect women from all walks of life.
About 1 in 5 women experience domestic abuse or violence from a partner or ex-partner at some point in their lives. Some may also have experienced other forms of abuse as a child or from other family members.
Men and people in same-sex relationships experience violence and abuse too. Sometimes they don’t look for help because they’re worried about not being believed or being made fun of.
Domestic abuse can take many forms. It can be:
Women who are being or have been abused are more likely to
Abusive behaviours can include:
Abuse when you’re pregnant can affect your unborn baby in many ways, including:
The abuse might have been going on a while and may not feel like something you can deal with just now.
You won’t be blamed or judged if this is happening to you. Seeking out help is important for you and your baby.
Many people feel ashamed and guilty about experiencing sexual abuse and violence. They may not tell anyone through shame, fear or worries about being judged by other people.
If you’re being abused, or you have been in the past, being pregnant can trigger all kinds of difficult feelings. It can stop some women from going to their antenatal appointments because they worry about how they’ll react to being examined. Others are scared about the birth, because it may bring on feelings of panic and of being out of control.
If there was abuse in your childhood, thoughts of this can sometimes come flooding back, even though you’ve pushed them to the back of your mind for years.
Domestic abuse isn’t your fault and it’s never okay.
If anyone’s abusing you, it can be scary to think about leaving the situation or even telling anyone about it. It’s vital you tell someone you can trust and ask for help.
There are services to help you and your family in both practical and emotional ways – whether you’re living with the abuser or not.
If you’re at risk of domestic abuse from a current or an ex-partner, the local authority must offer you somewhere to live to keep you and your baby safe.
Shelter Scotland has more information about housing and homelessness connected to domestic abuse
Female genital mutilation (FGM) can cause issues during pregnancy and childbirth. If this has happened to you, you may need extra care.
You may feel pressured by family members or the wider community to arrange FGM for your daughter. FGM is against the law in the UK.
Although it can be hard to talk to your midwife, they can make sure you get the best care for you and for your baby. Your midwife or social worker can give you advice and support you in keeping your daughter safe.
FGM Aware has more advice for parents about FGM
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15 December 2023