Abuse During and Before Pregnancy: Prevalence and Cultural Correlates


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Abstract

This study examined the prevalence of abuse during pregnancy and the influence of cultural norms and acculturation on abuse in 1,004 Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban American, Central American, African American and Anglo American women. Women were recruited from consecutive delivery logs in general community hospitals in Florida and Massachusetts. The Index of Spouse Abuse and the Abuse Assessment Screen ascertained history of adult physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, abuse during pregnancy, and childhood sexual abuse. An Interview Protocol assessed cultural attitudes, acculturation, and demographic information.Hispanic American women, as a whole, did not differ significantly from Anglo American women in their prevalence of abuse during pregnancy, after controlling for sociodemographic variables. However, Cuban American and Central American partners were significantly less likely to abuse their pregnant partners than were other groups even after adjustment. Women who spoke only Spanish (less acculturated) were less likely to report physical abuse from their partners both before and during pregnancy. Cultural norms, such as a partner's belief in wife/mother role supremacy and cultural group acceptability of men hitting women, were significantly positively related to both physical and emotional abuse. Other risk factors for abuse were the abuser not being the biological father of the baby, low income and little education, and being unmarried.

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