Sexual abuse victims who become pregnant have some tough choices ahead of them. For some women, the thought of giving birth after being raped causes further emotional trauma. Others may struggle with personal convictions about life that convince them they should carry the pregnancy to term. Whether they then choose to parent or place their baby for adoption after birth also is part of the decision-making process.
No matter which scenario applies to your personal situation, Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque is here to help. Our team does more than guide sexual abuse victims through the process of handling a pregnancy. They also can test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) to ensure the baby and mother are healthy. Care Net connects pregnant abuse victims with the resources they need to recover emotionally and physically.
How many women are sexually abused?
Sexual abuse and violence affect one out of every six American women in their lifetime. Pregnancy resulting from sexual abuse happens in 6 percent of rapes of women of reproductive age (12 to 45). Women can be sexually abused by a stranger or someone who is known to them. In some cases, they are raped or sexually coerced by an intimate partner.
Rape-related pregnancy is similar across racial and ethnic groups, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Choices for sexual abuse victims who become pregnant
Sometimes sexual assault victims who become pregnant from the abuse feel victimized twice. These feelings are normal and never should be ignored or minimized by healthcare professionals or others providing care to the victim. Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque is a no-judgment zone. Our primary concern is your health and safety. Whether you choose abortion, adoption, or parenting, our caring staff is here to help you through every step of the process. We also connect you with the resources you need to help you heal from sexual abuse trauma. If you choose abortion or adoption, we have support services in place to help you through the normal feelings and struggles you may have afterward. Whatever you choose, we are here for you.
Sometimes sexual abuse victims who become pregnant are forced by their abusers to have an abortion to hide the abuse. Victims who have been forced to terminate their pregnancies can suffer long-term emotional and physical trauma. Our team can connect victims in this situation with the resources they need to heal emotionally and physically from sexual abuse and trauma.
Spotting the warning signs of sexual abuse
Many sexual abuse victims suffer in silence because the people around them have no idea they are victims of something so horrific. There are behavioral, emotional, and physical signs of sexual abuse. Learning to spot them can mean the difference between a victim getting the help they need and continued suffering.
Some of the most common warning signs include:
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Emotional outbursts.
- Extreme objection to odors, sounds, or specific people and situations.
- Fear of being alone.
- Inability to establish healthy boundaries.
- Memory loss.
- Restlessness or sleeplessness.
If you suspect someone is the victim of sexual abuse, reach out to the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline toll-free at 800-656-4673. The trained staff members can connect you with services in your area that can investigate and provide support to the victim of sexual abuse if it is confirmed.
How sexual abuse sabotages a healthy pregnancy
Beyond a woman becoming pregnant because of sexual abuse or other sexual violence, being sexually abused also can affect future pregnancies. Women who later choose to become pregnant with their partners can suffer the unwanted emotional side effects of their earlier trauma. All victims have triggers that can remind them of the crime to which they were subjected. For sexual abuse sufferers, one of those triggers can be their bodies. While they chose to become pregnant and are happy about their decision, that does not mean their pregnancy won’t generate unwanted feelings.
Pregnancy and childbirth can generate unwanted feelings during:
- Routine prenatal care and exams.
- Invasive delivery interventions.
- Power struggles between the patient and her doctor.
Any of these scenarios can trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response in a pregnant woman who previously suffered from sexual abuse. Pregnancy – even one that is planned and perceived as a joyous occasion – can trigger higher levels of anxiety and fear in sexual abuse survivors.
Turn to Care Net for help
Victims of sexual abuse can seek help at any of our locations directly, no questions asked. We protect your confidentiality and will connect you with the resources you need to heal from the trauma. If you are pregnant, we can ensure you have the guidance needed to make the best decision about your pregnancy. Contact us at any time to learn more.