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16th Nov 2016

Dr Rhona Mahony: ‘One In EIGHT Women Suffer Violent Attacks During Pregnancy’

Katie Mythen-Lynch

One in eight pregnant women in Ireland has been violently attacked by the time they give birth, according Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony.

Domestic abuse is more common than most people realise and particularly common during pregnancy, when women are more likely to be “assaulted in their abdomen than in their face”.

The shocking statistic was revealed at the SAFE Ireland Summit at the Mansion House in Dublin, an event aimed at improving safety generally for women and children.

“One in eight women, we estimate, suffer from domestic violence during pregnancy.” Dr Mahony said, explaining that it  is occurring at a higher rate than many of the illnesses doctors screen for during pregnancy.

“Domestic violence during pregnancy does real harm to mothers and babies and to those in the family.” she continued.

“It is associated with increased rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term birth, anxiety and depression.

“In pregnancy, women are more likely to be assaulted in their abdomen than their face. Pregnancy is not protective. In fact, up to 10pc of cases of domestic violence start for the first time during pregnancy or escalate during pregnancy,” the doctor added.

Dr Mahony warned that no socio economic group is immune: “including the highly professional, together woman.” she said. “She also could be hiding a secret and is also scared to tell her story,”

Sadly, domestic violence can leave women struggling to cope, and many women who ensure it turn to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

Dr Mahony and her team work hard to ensure as many women as possible in their care get help, meeting women in private so they can discuss their concerns.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, get help today by contacting Women’s Aid on 1800 341 900.