I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

26 November 2012

The Girl Effect, part 18

yellow flower - photo by J. Stahl

German police have arrested a man after he allegedly set his pregnant wife on fire in a cafe in Dortmund. Both the woman and her unborn baby survived, but the attacker faces attempted murder charges.
The guests at the Cafe came and rescued the woman immediately, stopping the flames. The 33 year old was taken to the hospital with severe burns, as we're told by the police. She and her unborn child are not in critical condition. (German)
The man was arrested by the police later in the evening. The Dortmund police and District Attorney's office do not yet know all the specific details and  relationship backgrounds that may have brought on the attack. (German)

This article went on later to say that the couple has been separated. Other articles say that they do not know what chemical was poured over the woman, and that her estranged husband will be charged with attempted murder of herself and the child.

See, I'm sure a lot of people reading my blog are wondering why I am on a "kick" about domestic violence.  
This is why. 
 From the time a baby girl is born, until a woman's death - the chances of abuse of any kind coming near her is 1 in 4. The rates are only SLIGHTLY smaller in the United States.  Compare the size of Germany (including population) with the US, you will realize this is a huge problem.

When you can sit down and think of 10 relatives off hand that have some sort of domestic violence affect their lives (and you know it is more than that) - you know there is a major issue, and something has to be done.

When you hear statistics such as these:

30% of domestic violence starts in pregnancy (1).
Between 4 and 9 women in every 100 are abused during their pregnancies and/or after the birth(2).
Women's Aid (UK)
240,000 pregnant women are subject to domestic violence
40% of assaults begin during the first pregnancy
Pregnant women are twice the risk of battery
American Pregnancy Association

    Each year 1.5 million women in the United States report a rape or physical assault. This number includes 324,00 women who are pregnant.
    25% - 40% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.
    15% - 25% of pregnant women are physical and sexually abused.
    At least l in 6 women is abused during pregnancy.
    One quarter of pregnant women is physically abused.
    4% - 17% of all women are abused during pregnancy.
    Nearly 50% of abusive husbands batter their wives when they are pregnant.
Statistics about domestic violence during pregnancy

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year in the United States more than 300,000 pregnant women experience some kind of violence involving an intimate partner, and about one-quarter of women country report having been sexually or physically assaulted by a spouse, partner, or boyfriend at some point in their life. Domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to American women between the ages of 15 and 44 and is estimated to be responsible for 20 to 25 percent of hospital emergency room visits by women.
Baby Center

Pregnant women have a higher risk of experiencing violence during pregnancy than they do of experiencing problems such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or premature rupture of membranes.

The incidence of violence in pregnancy may range from 4 to 17 percent. These figures may significantly underestimate the problem, as many women do not report their experiences of violence.
Women's Web Canada

 Immediate effects on the pregnancy can include:

    Blunt Trauma to the Abdomen
    Hemorrhaging (including placental separation)
    Uterine rupture
    Preterm labor
    Premature rupture of the membranes

Abuse, both in the past and in a current relationship, particularly sexual abuse, has been shown to have effects on laboring women. There is even some speculation as to whether or not previous history of sexual abuse can delay the baby from dropping into the pelvis, make the pushing stage longer, etc.
Domestic Violence in Pregnancy - Intimate Partner Violence -
Domestic violence during pregnancy can be missed by medical professionals because it often presents in non-specific ways. A number of countries have been statistically analyzed to calculate the prevalence of this phenomenon:

    UK prevalence: 3.4%[21]
    USA prevalence: 3.2-33.7%[22][23]
    Ireland prevalence: 12.5%[24]
    Rates are higher in teenagers[25]
    Severity and frequency increase postpartum (10% antenatally vs. 19% postnatally);[26] 21% at 3 months post partum[27]

There are a number of presentations that can be related to domestic violence during pregnancy: delay in seeking care for injuries; late booking, non-attenders at appointments, self-discharge; frequent attendance, vague problems; aggressive or over-solicitous partner; burns, pain, tenderness, injuries; vaginal tears, bleeding, STDs; and miscarriage.[citation needed]

Domestic violence can also affect the fetus and the subsequent child. Physical abuse is associated with neonatal death (1.5% versus 0.2%), and verbal abuse is associated with low birth weight (7.6% versus 5.1%).[28]

And if that was not enough - there's this 33 page document in PDF format to explain how dire the situation is in the United States alone. 


Speak up. Be an ear. Be a help in a great time of need.

If you see something, say something. If you hear something, say something.

This should not be any woman's normal. Not in America, not in Germany, not in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Venezela, Mexico, Japan, China, India.. no where on this planet.

I cannot tell you how much it haunts me to know that I have known women in this position, terrified to speak out - to ask if their normal really is normal.. and not read between the lines until it was almost too late for them.

I cannot begin to express how horrified I am to learn daily that my normal is not the normal for the other women I might meet or pass by today. 

I am horrified to know that when I go to pick up makeup on some frivolous buy just so I can go to a party, or out to the movies, or just so I don't look like the living dead while shopping - that some other lady standing there next to me looking over cosmetics may not be thinking about how lovely that shade of eye shadow is, or whether her concealer matches her skin tone, but whether or not that product alone will cover the pain and injury she has experienced and must keep hidden.

I'm saddened to know that when I am looking at sunglasses on sale and wondering when they'll come back out next year so I can get a few new pair to match my summer and fall wardrobe - that the ladies standing next to me are wondering if the lenses are large enough to hide their bruises or the fact their eyes are so red...

It tears me up inside to know that when I go to the OB/GYN for a yearly checkup, that probably the entirety of that room has either needed help, currently needs help, or didn't know how to give someone the help they needed.  And scarier thought - that not all the men in that room are actually there to "support" their daughter/daughter-in-law, wife or girlfriend.

I'm shaken to my core. I'm in tears. I'm so sorry, and I wish there was a way to wave a wand and make it better, but there isn't. We all have to pull ourselves up and stand with our sisters, help their daughters and their sons... If we don't help, if we don't say something when we see or hear something.. If we don't act - we're letting it happen.

If you see yourself in any of the statistics posted here today, please contact someone for help.

If you are in the US or Canada, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-787-3224 or here: /

You may also contact the Suicide Prevention hotline here, and they can put you in contact with those who can assist you:

If you are in the UK, you can contact 0808 2000 247 or go here:

If you are elsewhere in Europe - check this page for your local help websites and phone numbers.

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