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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Reproductive rights issues in sexual abuse

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Author Topic: Reproductive rights issues in sexual abuse
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Seven years ago, Elizabeth Miller was a volunteer physician in a community-based clinic in Boston, Mass., which offered confidential services to teens.

She is still haunted by the memory of a 15-year old girl who asked her for a pregnancy test. It was negative, but two weeks later the girl was treated for a severe head injury in a nearby emergency room. The girl's boyfriend had pushed her down a flight of stairs.

"I assumed all she needed was to be educated about her contraceptive options," Miller recalled. "Later, I wondered what I had missed. Could I have asked a question that would have identified that she was in an abusive relationship?"

That nagging question inspired Miller, now a pediatrician with UC Davis Children's Hospital, to dedicate her career to trying to understand the unique characteristics of adolescent partner violence.

In a new qualitative clinical study published in the September-October issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics, Miller and her research colleagues report that a quarter of the teenage girls interviewed for the study -- all of whom had histories of abusive relationships -- say their partners were actively trying to get them pregnant. The study is the first in the general adolescent health literature to document the role of abusive partners in promoting teen pregnancy.

"Physicians are trained to think about domestic violence in adult terms," said Miller, a physician trained in both adult and pediatric medicine who specializes in treating adolescents. "Our study suggests that health-care providers who come in contact with teens, especially those seeking pregnancy testing and emergency contraception, should ask about the possibility of abuse in the relationship and specifically whether the young woman's partner may be trying to get her pregnant."

Miller's study is based on interviews with 61 girls from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds with a known history of intimate partner violence living in the poorest neighborhoods in Boston. The analysis included 53 girls between the ages of 15 and 20 who reported being sexually active and involved in relationships that included recurring patterns of physical, sexual or emotional abuse from a male partner. Twenty-six percent of these girls reported that their partners were actively trying to get them pregnant by manipulating condom use, sabotaging birth control use and making explicit statements about wanting them to become pregnant.

"We were floored by what these girls told us," Miller recalled. "You think of forced sex as an aspect of abusive relationships, but this takes that abuse a step further to reproductive control of a young woman's body."


More here.

Obviously, this isn't news to us, simply because even right here at Scarleteen, we've seen glimpses of this before.

But it's certainly food for thought if you haven't had it yet.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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