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

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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.

Comment section

0 replies
  1. I support the National Domestic Violence Hotline because it is the least gender biased of all the domestic violence advocacy groups and I have been a life-long victim of domestic violence, a cycle that began with my mother and that led to my choices in relationships in adulthood. Women can be guilty of birth control sabotage and pregnancy coercion for the purpose of manipulation and control in an abusive relationship just as easily as men can. My ex-wife began using our children for that purpose the day she announced her pregnancy with our oldest child (an event which prevented me from leaving her only months into our marriage because I was tired of dodging flying objects, etc.) and when she threatened to injure herself while 7 months pregnant with the same child so that she could blame be because the authorities would believe her. So … would it be too much trouble to recognize this and possibly reword the questions to make them gender neutral and then add one more question to identify the gender of the person answering the survey so that you can begin to include men in these surveys?

  2. Dave:

    Thank you for your kind words about how NDVH not being focused upon gender abuse, at least in making it separate issues. We do work at that because we do recognize that domestic violence isn’t one particular gender, race, sexual orientation, class of people, white collar vs blue collar, etc.

    Admittingly, the site and many publications need to be adjusted to reflect more of the gender neutralities; however, it has been a long ongoing process to rewrite everything, as well as trying to translate publications to Spanish, etc.

    I’ll certainly pass it forward to those who write the surveys to include the question about the gender of the person responding to the surveys as well.

    NDVH Hotline Advocate_kk

  3. I am currently pregnant and a mother of one. I feel like I want to have an abortion with this second baby so I can go home and focus on my school. My husband told me that he would never forgive me for an abortion and that he would leave me. I don’t know if this is the coercian that you are talking about but I feel so alone because I am so unhappy in my marriage and I don’t want to bring a new baby into a home without another parent. It’s so hard already with one child, what will I do with two? My relationship with my husband is not where it needs to be, yesterday was the worst and I don’t think I am ever going to get over it. I hate to say this, but I hate being pregnant with this child. It’s tearing me apart, I’ve even thought sometimes about suicide as an option but I’d never want to leave my son behind with a father like my husband. Please, Please tell me what I should do?

  4. Dear J,
    I can imagine you are feeling an array of emotions right now. Maybe frustration, anger, confusion, and sadness. Pressuring you not to have an abortion is an example of reproductive coercion. I am sorry you are being put in such a difficult situation by your husband. We can not tell you what to do, but our hotline advocates would be happy to talk to you about options. You can call 1-800-799-7233 to talk to a live advocate 24 hours a day. We can help you find your local domestic violence program that often times offers counseling and support groups. You might also contact the Planned Parenthood in your area for questions about abortion. I am concerned that you have been feeling suicidal. If you start to feel this way again, it is important to reach out to someone. The Suicide Hotline is available 24 hours a day, and their number is 1-800-273-TALK. I know you feel alone right now, but there is help available. Please call us anytime.
    Hotline Admin_KL

  5. I am offended by this article and its (probably pro-choice) bias being that so many abusers do the EXACT opposite: they terrorize female partners into having abortions (I’ve also heard of abusive females having obortions even when in a healthy relationship with a partner willing to support them, but that is another subject).

    I was in an abusive relationship for many years and my male partner terrorized me frequently about even the possibility of pregnancy and threatened my life in the case that I wouldn’t have an abortion. This is why your article is deeply offensive to me.

    Thankfully I never got pregnant by my abuser and am currently pregnant in a new relationship.

  6. Victoria:

    Thank you for sharing your opinion about the article. We appreciate any and all feedback.

    When we at the hotline started to conduct the survey with the callers, we were a bit taken back too because it is such a taboo subject matter to talk about and we weren’t really sure how the response was going to be when we asked questions about pregnancy coercion, etc. We often found that more of the callers were quite open to discuss the subject matter than we had intially anticipated.

    We were taken back too by the number of callers expressing that their partner (either in a dating or marriage role) was coercing them to become pregnant. That was the focus of this particular study outlined in this article. The coercsion was oftentimes to trap the victim into the relationship so that they could continue to have power and control over the victim, among other reasons.

    I’m sure that there will be other focus studies in the future to determine of those who were pregnant in an abusive relationship (coerced into the pregnancy or not), how many of those were encouraged to or forced to have abortions.

    The mere fact that abusers can think to terrorize, manipulate and/or coerce a female victim to have a child or not have a child in order to continue their power and control games is indeed offensive enough.

    NDVH Hotline Advocate_kk

  7. Wow, just came across this page looking for help for a friend. I really enjoyed reading this article because more often you hear about domestic violence situations where the male will threaten the female if she does get pregnant and force an abortion (a situation I was in). However, I never really thought about an opposite situation. Which must be horrible to have a child to raise that you want to love and protect, but brings up terrible memories. I would assume thatt a lot of times the abusive person will raise the child to be the same way. I have also never thought about the genders being flipped as Dave’s situation (above) many women try to trap good men, my heart goes out to these people! Thank you for opening my eyes today 😉

  8. Mae,
    Thank you for your comments. Reproductive coercion in domestic violence relationships is a topic that has recently garnered alot of attention. Hopefully this information and the Hotline’s focus study, brings awareness to an issue that is effecting both men and women everyday. We’re glad you found it interesting. If you would like to know more, you can check out http://www.knowmoresaymore.org/, which is Futures Without Violence’s (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund) awareness campaign around reproductive coercion and dv.


  9. My son live a similar situation, his wife screaming at him all the times, even in front of their children,and I think he get phisical abuse (he denies) he clean the house, feed the kids, he is the only one works and provide for his family, now she is putting presion on him because she want other child. He tries to leave her several times, but he loves his children to much. As a mother I can not do anything.

  10. Hi Magdalena,
    Thank you for coming to share your story with our blog community. Your son does deserve support, as do you. Unfortunately, personal email addresses cannot be posted for safety reasons. (Please see our community guidelines.) Please feel free to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, anytime, 24 hours a day for support around this issue. If your son has a safe time to call, we can also provide him with support and local resources. Your son is lucky to have a mother who is concerned about him and who wants to support him.


  11. I dont know what to do, I dont know if I am the abser or she is, but now our baby is in between.

  12. After suffering a stroke and and trying to deal with it, my wife kick me out away from my new 3 months baby. treating to use my illegal status to do whatever needed, even againt the baby wellfare, to keep me away. All after I told her about a errectal deisfuction problem. She refused counseling for Post-partum, anuther man; all she wanted was the inmediate after a10 relationship .

  13. Hi Jhen,
    Thank you for sharing your story with the hotline community. It sounds like you’re going through a very difficult time. Please feel free to contact the hotline to discuss your situation further (800-799-7233). Advocates are available 27 hours a day, 7 days a week. Immigration status is often a tool used by abusers to intimidate victims into feeling trapped, but you do have rights. Hotline advocates can help you locate resources that may be able to give you some legal guidance.


  14. I’m proud to know that you had left that relationship. I have watched my brother being put down in their relationship that I would hurt with them. Not to say that I am proud to know that it’s not just women who are being hurt but I am proud to know that you have walked out. My brother stays with his wife because he says it’s out of love for his family. You can love your family being a happy parent. Showing how smart you are for you and your family.

  15. OMG! That is sad. I think if you want to be happy that you should walk away. You are more important than anything that is holding you back on. You aren’t here to be unhappy. I want to cry not just for you but all of the unhappy people. WOW! I am trying to understand these so call relationships. When I was growing up I decided to never let anyone put me through what I had seen as a little girl but now I’m in a relationship there is no difference. If a man tells me he wants me to stay home and not to do what please me. I am slowly killing myself. WOW! I’m crying because it’s hard to be in a relationship. Good luck in your future. I don’t think that I help.

  16. Hi Kezia,
    I’m so glad your brother has you for support. The best thing friends and family can offer to victims/survivors of domestic violence is support and talking to them about their options. It must be hard to see your brother unhappy and being treated that way. It’s hard sometimes for other people to understand why people stay in abusive relationships, but most victims feel like they have strong reasons for staying. It’s a process and sometimes it takes time for people to find their path out of the relationship. It sometimes takes longer than we like, but it doesn’t mean they will never leave. Hopefully, your brother will be able to find peace and happiness soon.

    Domestic violence doesn’t just affect the people in the relationship, it also hurts their friends and family. We’re always here to talk to family members, so if ever want to talk you can call us at 1-800-799-7233. We’re 24/7.

    Take care,
    Hotline Advocate VG

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