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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1999 Apr;78(4):310-5.

Prevalence of physical and sexual abuse before and during pregnancy among Swedish couples.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Göteborg University, Sweden.



To estimate the prevalence of threats and actual acts of physical and sexual abuse during pregnancy.


Two hundred and seven pregnant Swedish women married to or cohabiting with Swedish men were randomly selected from three antenatal clinics in the city of Göteborg, Sweden. A standardized questionnaire was used for personal interviews about the women's experience of physical and sexual abuse by a husband or a boyfriend at some point in the past, during the last year and during current pregnancy.


Twenty-seven point five percent of the women reported that they had been exposed to physical violence at some point in the past by their husband/boyfriend. Twenty-four and a half percent of the women had experienced some form of threat, physical or sexual violence during the last year. At some time (once or more) during their current pregnancy, the proportions of women who had been exposed to the following categories of violence, were as follows: 14.5%-symbolic violence, 14.5%-threats of mild violence, 2.9%-threats of moderate violence, 2.9%-threats of serious violence, 11%-mild violence, 4.3%-minor violence, 2.4%-moderate violence, 4.3%-serious violence and 3.3%-sexual violence.


This study demonstrates that a considerable number of women had experienced threats, physical and sexual abuse during pregnancy. There is an obvious need for screening of experience of domestic violence among pregnant women to enhance the safety of women and their unborn babies.

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