Abuse is never okay. And it sometimes gets worse during pregnancy.
What is abuse?
Abuse can be:
  • Sexual
  • Physical: hitting, kicking or pushing you
  • Emotional: yelling at you, scaring you or calling you names
For more information, visit our Women's Health page on IPV.
How common is abuse?
Abuse is common. Nearly one-third of American women reports being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
Violence occurs in all socioeconomic groups and to individuals among every culture, race, ethnicity, and religion.
Violence and Pregnancy
Living in an abusive relationship can harm the mother and her baby. The baby could be physically injured, miscarry or be delivered prematurely. Each year, about 324,000 pregnant women in this country are battered by their intimate partners. That makes abuse more common for pregnant women than gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia -- conditions for which pregnant women are routinely screened.
Current or past partner abuse has been associated with many unhealthy behaviors and conditions before, during or after pregnancy including:
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Illegal drug use
  • Depression
  • Suicide attempts
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV
  • Miscarriage
  • Poor pregnancy outcomes
  • Chronic health disorders

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Maryland
In 2007, females were the victims in 75% of Maryland crimes associated with intimate partner violence. Assault accounted for 92% of intimate partner violence crimes against women.
Of the 85 female homicides in Maryland in 2007, at least 29% was attributed to intimate partner violence. In contrast only 1% of male homicides were attributed to intimate partner violence.
Four percent of women in Maryland reported that they were physically abused by their current husbands or partners during pregnancy.
The leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women in Maryland was homicide. Over half of these homicides were perpetrated by current or former intimate partners.
Getting help
Many women do not seek help for domestic violence. Since most women have contact with the health care system and abuse is so common, it is recommended that health care providers routinely screen women for domestic violence. Some women may not feel comfortable disclosing abuse at a health care visit so information should be available and accessible even if screens are negative.
The helpline at the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, 1-800-MD-HELPS, is an excellent resource. They can provide advice, support, referrals for resources in every Maryland clinic and information about safety planning or protective orders if danger is potentially imminent.

Updated 04/2012