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power control coercion

From “Broken” Condoms to Pill Tampering: The Realities of Reproductive Coercion

In season one of “Desperate Housewives,” the couple Carlos and Gaby can’t agree on whether or not they should have a baby. Carlos, anxious to start a family, replaces Gaby’s birth control with sugar pills, which leads to her getting pregnant. Five seasons (and some children) later, Carlos has again tricked Gabby, and confesses that he didn’t actually have a vasectomy as he’d told her he had.

While there are a lot of outlandish storylines in the show, this one isn’t far from reality for some couples. Unfortunately, these scenarios don’t just happen onscreen, and there’s a name for them: reproductive coercion. Both men and women can coerce their partners, as seen in Carlos and Gaby’s relationship, into being at risk to have — or actually having — a baby.

Reproductive coercion is a form of power and control where one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system. It is sometimes difficult to identify this coercion because other forms of abuse are often occurring simultaneously.

Reproductive coercion can be exerted in many ways:

  • Refusing to use a condom or other type of birth control
  • Breaking or removing a condom during intercourse
  • Lying about their methods of birth control (ex. lying about having a vasectomy, lying about being on the pill)
  • Refusing to “pull out” if that is the agreed upon method of birth control
  • Forcing their partner to not use any birth control (ex. the pill, condom, shot, ring, etc.)
  • Removing birth control methods (ex. rings, IUDs, contraceptive patches)
  • Sabotaging birth control methods (ex. poking holes in condoms, tampering with pills or flushing them down the toilet)
  • Withholding finances needed to purchase birth control
  • Monitoring their partner’s menstrual cycles
  • Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease
  • Forcing pregnancy and/or not supporting their partner’s decision about when or if they want to have a child
  • Forcing their partner to get an abortion, or preventing them from getting one
  • Threatening their partner or acting violent if they don’t comply with their wishes to either end or continue a pregnancy
  • Continually keeping their partner pregnant (getting them pregnant again shortly after they give birth)

If an abuser forces their partner to become pregnant, this is not necessarily about the outcome of the pregnancy but rather about the control and power an abuser holds over their partner and their partner’s body.

Reproductive coercion can also come in the form of pressure, guilt and shame from an abuser. Some examples are if your abuser is constantly talking about having children or making you feel guilty for not having or wanting children with them — especially if you already have kids with someone else.

In 2011 The Hotline conducted the first national survey to learn the extent of reproductive coercion. The findings were shocking. Over 3,000 callers participated in the survey and 25% reported that they had experienced this type of abuse.

Safety Plan With an Advocate and Your Gynecologist or Doctor

If you call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, an advocate can help you develop strategies to address your situation. A gynecologist or health care provider can also be a useful resource, especially in helping you conceal contraceptive methods if this is an issue. Doctors can give birth control pills in plain envelopes for example, or provide less detectable forms of contraceptive. Some of these options include a shot, an implant or an IUD with the strings trimmed.

If you have a positive STI test result and are afraid of how your partner will react, you can speak with your doctor about anonymous partner notification services.

Further Resources

Know More Say More: Futures Without Violence’s awareness campaign around reproductive coercion and domestic violence

Mary Kay survey

Get Back Your Green: Tips for Economic Recovery After Abuse

“Money makes the world go round.” If you’ve ever struggled with money, you know the truth behind that frustrating saying. Financial issues can make you feel stuck, like your whole world is on hold. For someone leaving abuse or thinking about leaving, this can be one of biggest factors that gets in the way.

A survey sponsored by Mary Kay, Inc. in 2012 found that 74% of survivors stayed with an abusive partner for longer than they wanted to because of financial concerns. It’s also one of the main barriers for those who are trying to leave.

Exiting an abusive situation is more challenging if a victim is stressing about finances while trying to rebuild their life. Financial difficulties can also be a reason victims return to abusers.

In a time when there are so many other things to think about and plan for, how do you safeguard against some of the financial risks that come with leaving?  We’ve put together some tips for economic safety and recovery that are helpful right after leaving. Please know that these may not be the right options for everyone. Please evaluate your own situation, and keep your safety in mind.


Securing your financial information

If your ex has knowledge of or access to your passwords, SSN, credit card statements or other identifying info, it could be a good idea to take measures to keep your personal info safe.

Call banks, credit card companies and utility companies (including wireless phone services) to change your account numbers, PIN numbers and passwords. Change the passwords to online banking and email accounts.

Close any joint credit cards. You may consider opening your own checking account and applying for a credit card if you don’t already have one, in order to start building your own credit history.

To further secure your financial information, open a P.O. box for mail and any financial documents you might receive.

Accessing your credit report

A credit report shows if bills and loans have been paid on time and if there are any outstanding loans or money owed. You can request a free copy of your credit report from any of the following agencies — and that’s a good place to start. Review your credit report at least once a year.

Equifax at 1-800-525-6285

Experian at 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)

TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289

Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228

Credit reports can determine the amount and interest rate of loans you apply for. A good credit history is also important for renting a home, getting insurance, applying for a job and more — employers, insurance companies and creditors often check your credit report.

Addressing and rebuilding a bad credit report

In starting to repair a bad credit score, remember to make consistent payments on rent and loans. While these often won’t show up on your credit report, you can ask landlords, utility companies and other creditors to supply this info when you’re applying for credit. A record of on-time payments looks good.

You can also ask these people to write positive credit reference letters for you when you’re applying for credit.

Building up a good credit score takes time, but paying bills on time, paying off debt, correcting and disputing any mistakes and refraining from building up additional debt are steps in the right direction.


Additional Resources

Local domestic violence programs have different resources you can access for support and these programs can also help with your safety concerns after leaving. If you call NDVH at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) our advocates can locate programs in your community.

  • The Allstate Foundation’s Click to Empower is an organization designed specifically to assist survivors with economic challenges. They have online resources, courses and grants to help survivors “get safe, stay safe and thrive.”
  • The Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE) has many helpful articles in the Divorce category.
  • Women’s Law includes more information on financial protections to take if you’re getting ready to leave or have just left an abusive relationship.

Are you a survivor who faced financial hardships once you left? How did you handle financial obstacles?

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

43% of Dating College Women Have Experienced Violent and Abusive Dating Behaviors

A new survey reveals dating violence and abuse to be surprisingly more prevalent among college students than previously believed. Nearly half of dating college women (43%) report having ever experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors, and more than one in five (22%) report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. Despite the high number of students experiencing these types of abuse, more than one-third of college students (38%) say they would not know how to get help on campus if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

The survey, “Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” was conducted by Knowledge Networks to address the lack of data on dating violence and abuse among college students and to increase the understanding of this problem on college campuses nationwide.

According to dating violence expert, Dr. Karen Singleton, Director of Sexual Violence Response, a program of Columbia University Health Services, “This survey expands on earlier reports and reinforces the complexity of the issue.” Among the findings are:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women report having been a victim of an abusive dating relationship in her life.
  • 57% of students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship indicate it occurred in college.
  • 52% of college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, digital, verbal or controlling abuse.
  • Further, 58% of students said they would not know how to help if they knew someone was a victim.

“The findings of this survey prove that colleges and universities need to provide a more comprehensive response and additional creative educational programs to address dating violence and abuse,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc.

The survey findings were released today, during a forum to educate students about sexual assault prevention and survivor assistance at American University.

The full report of survey results can be found at www.loveisnotabuse.com.

National Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle Respond to the Urgent Need for Education

In direct response to these new findings, www.loveisrespect.org, a partnership between the National Dating Abuse Helpline and leading teen dating violence prevention organization, Break the Cycle, is launching an initiative to target college students with new, relevant resources to address the issue of dating abuse.

The expanded online content includes: Take Action (information on how students can get involved on their campus), Stay Safe (safety planning designed specifically for college students) and Help a Friend (information to assist bystanders). The survey shows that 57% of college students say it is difficult to identify dating abuse – substantive evidence of the need for increased education and awareness.

“It is our hope that with these targeted college resources, we can help increase knowledge about how students can combat the issue and ultimately, help prevent the prevalence of dating abuse and violence among students,” said President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Helpline, Katie-Ray Jones.

The resources are available, free online at www.loveisrespect.org.

In addition, Liz Claiborne Inc. has created a college dating violence curriculum called Love Is Not Abuse, designed to help students deal with dating violence and abuse on campus. The first college curriculum of its kind, Love Is Not Abuse educates students about the dangers and warning signs of dating violence, offers lessons specifically on abuse via technology and provides resources where college students can find help on campus.

The Love Is Not Abuse curriculum was created by a task force consisting of educators and domestic and sexual violence experts from Columbia University, George Mason University, the University of Kansas, Virginia Community College System, Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) following the May 2010 murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love.

The Love Is Not Abuse college curriculum is available online, free at www.loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/curriculum.

Survey Methodology

Liz Claiborne Inc. commissioned Knowledge Networks to conduct quantitative research among students enrolled in four-year colleges (ages 18 – 29). The sample for this study came from the Knowledge Networks probability-based online panel, KnowledgePanel®. Online data collection took place between September 29 to December 27, 2010. A total of 508 college students (330 women and 178 men) were surveyed.  The final sample was weighted using the Census Bureau school enrollment benchmarks for age, gender, race/ethnicity and geographic region based on the October 2009 Supplement of the Current Population Survey. It is statistically representative of all 18-29 year-old college students in the United States, with a margin of sampling error of ± 5.4 percentage points.

About Liz Claiborne Inc.

Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic. Visit them at www.loveisnotabuse.com.

About loveisrespect.org

Loveisrespect.org is a collaboration between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline. Combining resources and capacity, together they are reaching more people, building more healthy relationships and saving more lives. Loveisrespect.org is designed to:

  • Create the ultimate resource fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships.
  • Provide a safe space for young people to access information and help in an environment that is designed specifically for them.
  • Ensure confidentiality and trust so young people feel safe and supported—online and off.

Loveisrespect.org is the ultimate resource to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.

About the National Dating Abuse Helpline

The National Dating Abuse Helpline is the direct service provider behind loveisrespect.org, operating the phone and chat services. The Helpline, originally known as “loveisrespect.org, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline,” was launched in February 2007 with help from founding sponsor, Liz Claiborne Inc. It is a national, 24-hour resource specifically designed for teens and young adults. Accessible by phone or internet, the National Dating Abuse Helpline operates from a call center in Austin, Texas.

The Helpline offers real-time one-on-one support from peer advocates. They train these young leaders to offer support, information and advocacy to those involved in dating abuse relationships as well as concerned parents, teachers, clergy, law enforcement and service providers.

About Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle engages, educates and empowers youth to build lives and communities free from domestic and dating violence. Break the Cycle believes everybody has the right to safe and healthy relationships. Whether it’s teaching young people about the warning signs of abuse, safety planning or how to navigate the legal system, Break the Cycle gives teens and young adults the tools they need to live safer, healthier lives. Each year, Break the Cycle reaches more than one million youth nationwide. Visit them at www.breakthecycle.org.

PRESS CONTACT:

Amy C. Terpeluk
Tel.: (212) 583-2792
Cell: (917) 826-2326
terpeluka@ruderfinn.com

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Survey Shows Domestic Violence Services Provided in One Day in the U.S.

In the United States on September 15, 2010, three women were murdered by their intimate partners, 36 babies were born to mothers living in domestic violence shelters and 391 survivors started new jobs. Three men committed suicide – one after murdering his wife, another after a failed attempt to kill his girlfriend, and the third after holding his partner hostage and a standoff with the police. With astonishing numbers such as these, a person can’t help but wonder— how many domestic violence services are used per day in the United States?

A survey recently released by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) reveals telling information about the status of domestic violence services in the U.S. NNEDV conducts this study once a year to provide the public with a snapshot of what family violence programs across the U.S. see in their shelters on one particular day. From those programs that participated, the survey shows how many calls local hotlines received, what services programs were able to offer and any needs that went unmet due to a lack of resources.

The study revealed that on September 15, 2010, 91 percent of identified domestic violence programs in the U.S. participated in the 2010 National Census of Domestic Violence Services. During the 24-hour period, domestic violence victim advocates served more than 70,000 adults and children and answered more than 20,000 emergency hotline calls. During the same 24 hours, more than 9,000 requests for services went unmet, largely due to lack of funding.

Though the economy does not cause domestic violence, factors associated with economic uncertainties can increase the severity and frequency of abuse. At the same time, options for survivors to escape can be more limited. More than 80 percent of local domestic violence programs reported an increased demand for their services while nearly the same number reported decreases in funding.

The full results of the National Domestic Violence Counts 2010 are available online at www.nnedv.org/census.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

1 in 4 Callers surveyed at the Hotline Report Birth Control Sabotage and Pregnancy Coercion

The Hotline recently conducted a survey of callers to learn about the extent of abuse called “reproductive coercion.” Reproductive coercion is defined as threats or acts of violence against a partner’s reproductive health or reproductive decision-making.

The survey found that 25% of the 3,169 callers who agreed to participate in the survey reported that they had experienced this form of domestic and dating violence. Callers reported that their partners would not allow them to use birth control or sabotaged their birth control method by poking holes in the condoms or flushing pills down the toilet. Some callers even reported having to hide their birth control. This type of sabotage leads to unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and can be used as a trap to control their partner. These abuse patterns were apparent in callers’ comments, such as:

  • “I better be pregnant, or I’m in trouble with him.”
  • “He refuses to use a condom. I’ve bought them and he throws them out.”
  • “He has tried to talk me into having a child. He told me he wanted to keep me from leaving him.”
  • “He admitted to me and the psychologist that he intentionally got me pregnant to trap me.”
  • “My sister was 14 years old when she became involved with this abusive guy, and when she was 15 his mother wanted grandkids so he coerced her into getting pregnant.”

The survey questions and response rates were as follows:

  1. Has your partner or ex-partner ever told you not to use any birth control (like the pill, shot, ring, etc.)? – Of the 3169 callers who responded, 25% said yes.
  2. Has your partner or ex-partner ever tried to force or pressure you to become pregnant? – Of the 3166 callers who answered this question, 25% said yes.
  3. Has your partner or ex-partner ever taken off the condom during sex so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3103 callers who responded, 16% said yes.
  4. Has your partner or ex-partner ever made you have sex without a condom so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3130 callers who responded, 24% said yes.

As a result of this study, The Hotline is focusing on training advocates on how to identify and support callers who experience reproductive coercion.

Read our press release to find out more about the study.

announcement

1 in 4 Callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline Report Birth Control Sabotage and Pregnancy Coercion

San Francisco, CA – What may be the first national survey to determine the extent of a form of abuse called “reproductive coercion” was released today by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Family Violence Prevention Fund. The survey found that 25% of callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that they had experienced this form of domestic and dating violence.

Reproductive coercion is defined as threats or acts of violence against a partner’s reproductive health or reproductive decision-making. It includes forced sex, a male partner pressuring a woman to become pregnant against her will and interference with the use of birth control. The women who reported this form of abuse said that their male partners either would not allow them to use birth control or sabotaged their birth control method (such as poking holes in condoms or flushing pills down the toilet). Some of the women said they had to hide their birth control.

“Birth control sabotage is a serious form of control that leads to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,“ said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “While there is a cultural assumption that some women use pregnancy as a way to trap their partner in a relationship, this survey shows that men who are abusive will sabotage their partner’s birth control and pressure them to become pregnant as a way to trap or control their partner.”  (In the words of one caller, “keep me in his life forever…”)

More than 3,000 callers participated in the survey by answering all or some of four questions between August 16 and September 26, 2010. Callers’ ages ranged from 13 to over 55, with nearly 40% age 25 to 35. More than half of the callers were Caucasian, and nearly one quarter were African-American, and 17% were Hispanic. Callers who were in immediate danger were not asked to participate in the study.

For those who did participate in the study, patterns included pressure to become pregnant early in the relationship or before the victim felt ready and, in some cases, pressure to become pregnant followed by pressure to have an abortion. These abuse patterns were apparent in callers’ comments, such as:

  •  “I better be pregnant, or I’m in trouble with him.”
  • “He refuses to use a condom. I’ve bought them and he throws them out.”
  • “He has tried to talk me into having a child. He told me he wanted to keep me from leaving him.”
  • “He admitted to me and the psychologist that he intentionally got me pregnant to trap me.”
  • “My sister was 14 years old when she became involved with this abusive guy, and when she was 15 his mother wanted grandkids so he coerced her into getting pregnant.”

“Survivors of domestic violence don’t always recognize reproductive coercion as part of the power and control their partner is exerting over them in their relationship,” said National Domestic Violence Hotline Operations Manager Mikisha Hooper. “This form of abuse can be shrouded in secrecy and may be uncomfortable for people to talk about it. By asking the right questions, we help victims identify and understand the abuse – and provide the support and resources they need.”

The survey questions and response rates were as follows:

  1. Has your partner or ex-partner ever told you not to use any birth control (like the pill, shot, ring, etc.)? – Of the 3169 callers who responded, 25% said yes.
  2. Has your partner or ex-partner ever tried to force or pressure you to become pregnant? – Of the 3166 callers who answered this question, 25% said yes.
  3. Has your partner or ex-partner ever taken off the condom during sex so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3103 callers who responded, 16% said yes.
  4. Has your partner or ex-partner ever made you have sex without a condom so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3130 callers who responded, 24% said yes.

According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the rate of reproductive coercion is probably even higher than these findings showed because some callers who experienced this form of control were not included in the survey because they needed to be referred to help immediately.

The negative health consequences to reproductive coercion are clear: according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40% of abused women reported that their pregnancy was unintended compared to 8% of non-abused women. Additionally, female victims of violence are three times more likely than non-victims to experience sexually transmitted infections, according to a study in the Archives of Family Medicine.

As a result of this study, the National Domestic Violence Hotline started to train its advocates on how to identify and support callers who experience reproductive coercion. “It is validating for women who are experiencing this form of abuse to know that they are not alone and that there is help available.  You can really hear the change in their voice when they realize someone understands what they’ve been through.” said Hooper.

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The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established by Congress in 1996. The Hotline is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The Hotline serves as the only national domestic violence hotline. Advocates receive approximately 23,500 calls each month. The Hotline is toll-free, confidential and anonymous. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 1-800-799-SAFE. The Hotline is supported by funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to end violence against women and children around the world, because every person has the right to live free of violence. More information is available at www.endabuse.org. The FVPF’s kNOwMore initiative, which examines the consequences of reproductive coercion and violence, is online at www.KnowMoreSayMore.org

CONTACT: Susan Lamontagne, 631 899-3825 or susan@publicinterestmedia.com

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Increased Financial Stress Affects Domestic Violence Victims

National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) data released today suggests a link between financial stress and domestic violence. For victims who called the national Hotline during the six week study, 54 percent reported a change in their household’s financial situation in the past year.

NDVH CEO Sheryl Cates said the study was developed in response to both an increase in anecdotal information from callers about how the economic downturn has affected their family, and questions from news media all over the country who asked whether the increase in the demand for Hotline, residential and non-residential services was related to the economy.

“Hotline calls in the third quarter of 2008 were up significantly over 2007, with September up 21 percent,” Cates said. “From what we were hearing on the calls, we believed that there was a link, but needed data to be sure.”

From November 12 until December 31, 2008, 32,316 Hotline calls were received, with 7,868 callers participating in the study. Of those, 54 percent (3,272) answered yes to the question “Has there been a change in your household’s financial situation in the past year?”

Sixty-four percent also answered the second question affirmatively, which was “Do you believe the abusive behavior has increased in the past year?”

“This increase in call volume comes at a time when private donations to the Hotline have decreased significantly,” said Cates. “About 35 percent of our budget is private funds from corporations, foundations and individuals. Given our current capacity and the current call volume, we project as many as 44,000 Hotline calls could go unanswered if we do not reach our funding goals.”