Domestic violence is often discussed, but generally physical abuse takes the forefront. There are so many different kinds of domestic abuse, and it’s important to know both the signs, and what they are. Abusers often use isolation tactics, so victims think that what’s happening to them, happens to them only, or that they deserve this treatment. Reproductive coercion is a horrific form of domestic violence, that occurs more often than you would think. Reproductive coercion typically happens along side other forms of abuse, typically financial abuse.
The definition of reproductive coercion is, “Threats or acts of violence against a partner’s reproductive health or reproductive decision-making and is a collection of behaviors intended to pressure or coerce a partner into becoming a parent or ending a pregnancy”.
There are lots of different things that a partner can do that is participating in reproductive coercion, and all of these are signs of abuse.
- Hiding or tampering with birth control
- Flushing or destroying means of birth control
- Poking holes in condoms
- Demanding that their partner have a baby, or they’ll leave them
- Withholding money needed to purchase birth control
- Agreeing on the pull out method and refusing to pull out
- Taking a condom off during sex without telling their partner
- Convincing their partner that a pregnancy would be a good idea, while also abusing you emotionally/physically/financially
- Lying about birth control (about either being on the pill, or having a vasectomy/hysterectomy)
- Keeping their partner pregnant, impregnating them immediately after the birth of a child
- Forcing their partner to not use contraceptives or face abuse
- Verbally pressuring partner to try and convince them to have a baby
- Forcing someone to carry a baby to term/having an abortion against their will
Reproductive coercion has almost nothing to do with actually having the baby, but simply keeping control and power over their partner. Financial abuse and reproductive coercion also go hand in hand, as someone that’s financially insecure and pregnant, is less likely to be able to leave a relationship, because they can’t support themselves, or their child(ren).
There are several red flags to notice people that might be the victims of reproductive coercion;
- Back to back pregnancy, being constantly pregnant
- Having a multitude of abortions
- Frequent pregnancy testing
Obviously, these aren’t all of the signs, but they’re some of the main ones.
According to a study from Cycle Five of the National Survey of Family Growth, they found that out of over 10,000 participants, women aged 15-44, they measured how much the ladies wanted to have sex and their experiences with sexual intercourse.
According to the study, as soon as the age difference between the woman and her male partner increased their want to participate in sex dropped. They also found that women have sex with partners over seven years older were less likely to being using contraception then women the same age with a similarly aged partner.
The age difference can be explained by predators going after people younger, and more inexperienced, that won’t know the difference between abuse and a non-abusive relationship. They keep their partner isolated, and alone, and keep acting like this is behaviour that everyone has to deal with. Large age gaps with young partners, most often still in their youth, don’t have the knowledge about safe sex or contraceptives. Predators literally pray on the fact that these teenagers aren’t taught about proper manners of contraception, and use it to control and abuse them.
Typically, gynecologists, and other healthcare providers, or abuse counselors, can help find ways to provide birth control if your partner is monitoring when and how you take it. It can be a very good way to keep your self safe until you are able to leave your relationship.
Your safety is always the most important thing. If you’re experiencing any of the things listed above, try and seek support to get away from the relationship. If you’re experiencing reproductive coercion, or know someone that is, here are some resources;
Planned Parenthood (If you have access they can provide emergency contraception)