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Published online: 2024-04-12

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Characteristics of physical violence against pregnant women — analysis of medico-legal data and literature review

Szymon Rzepczyk1, Klaudia Dolinska-Kaczmarek1, Bartosz Burchardt1, Zuzanna Aurast1, Dagmara Skowronska1, Przemyslaw Halasinski1, Aleksandra Bielecka1, Czeslaw Zaba1, Rafal Moszynski2

Abstract

Pregnancy is a period which is especially sensitive to physical violence and its aftermath. Subjecting a pregnant woman to violence can have negative effects on both the mother as well as the child. In Poland, there are programs, such as the Blue Card, aimed at protection against violence, however the phenomenon is underestimated. Documentation covering forensic examinations carried out at the request of the police or privately at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Poznan in the years 2015–2020 was analyzed. Out of 7,689 cases, 22 were concluded to meet the criteria of violence against pregnant women. The cases were then further analyzed, consideration of the victim’s age, professional status, relations with the perpetrator, form of physical violence, and medical assistance. The average age of the women at the time of the incident was 31.1 years. In 90.1% of the cases, the perpetrator was a known man, usually a current or former partner. The most common injuries were abrasions and bruises, while the most common locations of injuries were the head, neck, and arms. The most common forms of violence were grappling, kicking, and hitting with an open hand. Over 72% of the women sought medical attention after the incident. There is a need for educational programs concerning the effects of violence during pregnancy and ways to help. Gynecologists and midwives play an especially important role, by having direct contact with the patient, thus being able to quickly identify victims of violence and take actions to secure safe environment for the woman and the child.

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