Pregnancy can be a magical time for many women, however others know the pregnancy puts their lives at risk for more abuse. Director of The Liberty House Silke Deeley says women in abused relationships need to face an awful reality. "If there is an imbalance of power in a relationship, that particular pregnancy could really ramp up whatever is going on in that relationship and make it even worse." says Deeley.
Christy Showalter with the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence says one commonality with pregnant women who are killed is that they've experienced abuse before and it's not 'out of the blue' like the public may think. "We often hear people talk about how 'Oh he just snapped, such a nice guy, and you know killed his girlfriend. Research and the data don't support that scenario. The vast majority of the domestic violence homicides that happen there is a history of there being violence in that relationship" says Showalter.
The Liberty House has plenty of cases where women say they were abused worse when pregnant. "If we consider the fact that domestic violence is about power and control...an abuser has limited or no power over what is happening with that person's body when she is pregnant or the kind of relationship she's going to form with that child and how he's going to get pushed out the way at some point in time. If you already have an unhealthy relationship or unhealthy expectations about what that relationship should look like, then were going to ramp up some issues and dangers" says Deeley.
"Homicide is the second leading cause of injury related death for pregnant women. When pregnant women are dying as a result of some sort of injury - a good number of those are domestic violence related" says Showalter.
Pregnancy related violence hits home to Southwest Georgia. In August 28-year-old Tameda Ferguson was eight months pregnant when she was fatally shot. Experts say domestic violence that leads to homicide are typically complicated situations. "In the case of the woman who was murdered in Terrell County there were a lot of circumstances around that whole relationship. So when you have all sorts of other things that are a part of that picture it certainly will increase the ability for someone to consider homicide as the solution" says Silke.
The reason women stay in abusive relationships vary from financial, to children, to lack of resources, and more. Taylor Tabb with the Georgia Coalition against Domestic Violence says regardless of the reason a woman may chose to stay in an abusive relationship, as a community we can do something about it. "Homicides are preventable, and that it takes a coordinated community response to help victims to get safe and hold the batterers accountable" says Tabb.
When all the facts are presented, it's easy to understand why all of the experts say violence can increase during a pregnancy. "It is a myth that if you're pregnant and in an abusive relationship that that baby is going to protect you. It may increase your danger." Says Deeley Experts say by banding together, reaching out, and providing resources and support we can protect domestic violence victims and their unborn children.
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