South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

Reproductive coercion

For Female Survivors, Young People

Tags: Family Violence, Relationships

The decision about whether or not to have a baby is profoundly personal and this choice can be taken away by an abusive partner.

This decision can be affected by verbal pressure, threats, blackmail, physical violence or rape.

Statistics are on the whole unclear, but Queensland organisation Children by Choice reported 1 in 7 women presenting for abortions were seeing this behaviour.

Reproductive coercion overlaps with intimate partner violence and sexual violence, which affects one in four Australian women.

What is reproductive coercion?

  • Pregnancy coercion – where a woman is forced or manipulated into becoming pregnant
  • Birth control sabotage – where a woman is prevented from using contraception or her contraception is tampered with
  • Control of pregnancy outcome – where a woman is forced to continue or terminate a pregnancy

Signs of reproductive coercion

  1. Hiding or throwing away pills or pill packet
  2. Breaking or making holes in condoms, refusing to use a condom, or taking a condom off during sex
  3. Removing IUDs or vaginal rings
  4. Threatening behaviour that pressures a woman to become pregnant when she does not want to
  5. Forcing a woman to abort or continue a pregnancy when she does not want to
  6. Injuring a woman to cause a miscarriage
  7. Threatening to end the relationship, or harm the woman, if she doesn’t stop using contraception

Questions to ask yourself

  • Has your partner ever refused to use condoms, even after you asked? Or has he taken it off during sex?
  • Has your partner ever hidden your contraception, or damaged it in any way?
  • Has your partner tried to get you pregnant, or talked about trying to get you pregnant, when you do not want to?
  • Are you worried your partner will hurt you if you don’t do what he wants with your pregnancy?
  • Has your partner talked about a possible pregnancy as a way to “prove” your love for him?
  • Has your partner ever said contraception is only used by “cheaters” or people who don’t love their partners?
  • Do you feel you have to hide your contraceptive use from your partner?
  • Does the condom keep “breaking”?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, it is likely you are experiencing reproductive coercion and are in an unhealthy relationship.

 reproductive coersion

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