Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

The prevalence of intimate partner violence among couples signing up for universally offered parent preparation

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Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy can have serious health consequences for mothers and the unborn child. Nevertheless, IPV is seldom addressed in the context of parent preparation. Aim: This study aimed to map the prevalence, direction, and severity of IPV in a sample of expectant couples signing up for universally-offered parent preparation. Method: A total of 1726 Danish couples expecting their first child provided data on physical and psychological IPV by completing the Family Maltreatment measure [1] during the second trimester of pregnancy. Results: In 18.5% of the couples, at least one partner reported psychological or physical IPV acts during the past year. In more than 8% of couples, one or both partners reported acts and impacts above the ICD-11 threshold for clinically-significant IPV (CS-IPV) during the past year (3.6% physical CS-IPV, 5.3% psychological CS-IPV, and 0.8% both physical and psychological CS-IPV). Among couples with physical IPV below the clinical threshold, pregnant-woman-to-partner (50%) and bidirectional (38.2%) IPV were more common than partner-to-pregnant-woman IPV (11.8%). Among couples with physical CS-IPV, pregnant-woman-to-partner (36.1%), partner-to-pregnant-women (29.1%) and bidirectional (34.4%) forms were equally common. Among couples with psychological IPV, pregnant-woman-to-partner (54.9%) and partner-to-pregnant-woman (39.6%) IPV were more common than bidirectional IPV (5.5%). Discussion: The prevalence of violence was markedly higher in this study compared with previous reports from the Nordic region and highlights a previous oversight of a substantial and clinically significant level of pregnant-woman-to-partner IPV — as well as the reverse. Data from this study call for IPV to be addressed in universally offered parent preparation programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0223824
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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