181414 Sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and sexual and reproductive health

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 1:10 PM

Ann Moore, PhD , Research, The Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Lori F. Frohwirth, BA , Research, The Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY
Rebecca Levenson, MA , The Family Violence Prevention Fund, San Francisco, CA
Lisa James , The Family Violence Prevention Fund, San Francisco, CA
Introduction, Including Purpose or Objectives: Experiences of sexual abuse and intimate partner violence are correlated with sexual and reproductive health risk in the short- as well as long-term. We investigated women's experiences with childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence, past and present, to examine its impact on negotiating sexual intercourse, contraception, and decisions around pregnancy. Respondents were also asked their opinions regarding what health care providers can do to help women who have experienced intimate partner violence take better care of their sexual and reproductive health.

Data-Collection Methods: 75 women ages 18-49 who had experienced either childhood sexual abuse and/or intimate partner violence (including sexual violence) were recruited for an in-depth interview. Contraceptive use, pregnancy decision-making and sexual agency were explored.

Summary of Results: Proactively addressing the reproductive health needs of this population is challenging because many respondents stated that they would not reveal their abusive situation to a provider. However, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing sites may be particularly useful for identifying and assisting women in abusive partnerships because of the frequency of their visits (both for testing and treatment) and because of evidence that they may be more inclined to seek assistance when faced with an STI from an abusive partner than in other healthcare situations.

Conclusion: The more attuned providers and researchers are to the ways that abuse and violence impact women's sexual and reproductive health, the more likely it will be that these health care can addresses these women's sexual and reproductive health needs.

Learning Objectives:
Recognize ways in which experiences of childhood sexual abuse and/or intimate partner violence can affect women’s sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Evaluate evidence that the diagnosis of a sexually-transmitted infection may be a point at which women in abusive relationships may be open to accepting assistance from healthcare providers. Discuss suggestions made by women who have experienced abuse about how healthcare providers can create conditions in which women may feel comfortable disclosing past or current abuse.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the research and contributed to the analystical framework, and I am a professional in the field of family violence.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.