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Domestic violence is unfortunately a very common occurrence. Pregnancy is in fact the most common time for abuse physical sexual, or emotional to start in a relationship. Scary, isn't it?

If you are pregnant and in an abusive relationship

It's a little pointless to write about what you should do if you are pregnant and in an abusive relationship, because you will do whatever it is you decide to do. On in four of women experiences domestic violence at some point in their life, and 30 percent of abuse by partners starts during pregnancy. Physical abuse is perhaps the most common, but domestic violence also includes sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and even financial abuse.

If your partner hits or is otherwise abusive toward you during pregnancy, that is a very clear sign to get help and get out. The first time your partner turns violent on you, you are a victim. The second time, you are an accomplice. That opinion is sure to offend many people, and it is not hard to understand why many women who become victims of abusive partners live out a script they learned by heart during childhood. Ending the cycle can be hard.

Despite that, you are quite aware nobody should put you and your baby in this kind of danger and you both deserve so much better. It is up to you to create that better situation. Your abusive partner is highly unlikely to reform, though they may briefly feel sorry and even apologize, before turning violent again. Ending the relationship may be emotionally, financially and logistically difficult. During pregnancy, you may also think you cannot do without your partner or your child doesn't deserve to grow up without a father.

At this point, it is important to consider the situation from all angles, with friends, relatives or a psychologist if possible. The police can give you information about your rights as well, and tell you how to move forward if you wish to press charges of file for a restraining order. Making the decision to leave is the hardest. Once you are really clear that you cannot stay in this relationship, help is available in many places.

How to leave an abusive partner during pregnancy

Good prenatal care providers always ask about domestic violence during prenatal care appointments. This is exactly because an abusive situation so often starts during pregnancy, and because your healthcare provider cares about your health and that of your baby. Doctors and midwives have information about organizations that can help you leave, and can help you find your way. They will usually treat anything you say as confidential. For many women suffering violence during pregnancy, talking to their prenatal care provider is a good start. If you have trustworthy friends and relatives who can help you leave, you could also devise a get out plan with them.

Make sure that your partner does not know where you are, as leaving can trigger especially violent feelings in him. Don't stay at your parents' house if he knows where that is, for instance. Women who seemingly have nowhere to turn can ask domestic violence shelters for help. A huge number of women returns to their violent partner after having left, often multiple times. Prepare for this; you'll miss him, idealize him, and think he was not so bad at all.

Your ex partner may contact everyone you know and try to destroy your support system, or make you look like the guilty party. Prepare for this, too. Returning is never a good idea. Your ex partner may claim he has changed and will not be violent again, but this is hardly ever true. The period right after returning to a violent partner you had previously left is very dangerous as well. You would be putting yourself and your baby at risk of injury and perhaps worse.

Your baby will be much better off without a violent father in their lives. Leaving is hard, but very much worth it. You may not feel strong, but if you leave now, you are probably going to look back on this period of your life with much relief, and much deserved pride. Leaving a violent partner is one of the best things you can do to give your baby a secure start in life.

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