Domestic violence in pregnancy
Definitions of domestic violence vary according to the frequency, severity and nature of the violence as well as the context in which it occurred and the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. Though there is a lack of uniformity, a generally accepted definition of domestic violence is the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of an adult woman by a man with whom she has or has had an intimate relationship, regardless of whether the couple are living together. Although violence can be carried out by other family members or occur in same-sex relationships, it is argued that men use violence in order to maintain dominance and control over their female partners. Physical violence is just one of the many tactics that an abuser may use to exert control over his partner. Other behaviours include isolation, intimidation, threats of violence, threats to take the children away or hurt them and emotional or economic abuse. Whilst some studies have identified demographic patterns associated with domestic violence, it can affect any woman regardless of age, race, ethnicity, social class, employment status, religion, marital status or disability.
c1 Address for correspondence: Loraine Bacchus, Research Psychologist, St George's Hospital Medical School, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, Jenner Wing, Ground Floor, Cranmer Terrace, London, SW17 0RE.