Severity of Abuse To Pregnant Women and Associated Gun Access of the Perpetrator

Category: Domestic Violence, Firearm Availability, Women|Journal: Public Health Nursing|Author: J McFarlane, K Soeken|Posted On: January 01,1998

To investigate the relationship between abuse to pregnant women and gun access by the abuser, an ethnically stratified cohort of 199 pregnant abused women (70 African-Americans, 63 non-Hispanic Anglo-American, and 66 Hispanic women were interviewed using: (1) The Index of Spouse Abuse, a measure of the severity of physical and nonphysical abuse: (2) The Danger Assessment Scale, a measure of potential danger of homicide; and (3) The Severity of Violence Against Women Scale, a measure of threats of violence and actual violence. There were no significant differences by ethnicity among the 41.2% of the abused women who reported that their male partner had access to a gun. Among these same women reporting gun access, 17% reported the abuser kept the gun on his body. Women reporting gun access by the abuser reported higher levels of abuse on all scaled instruments (P= < 0.01). To protect women’s safety and prevent further trauma and potential homicide, routine assessment for abuse and gun access is recommended. Additionally, policy initiatives to remove firearms from abuse perpetrators may reduce the severity of violence experienced by abused women.