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“Reproductive abuse” is a newly defined form of domestic violence that keeps a person from making their own reproductive choices.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on the new form of abuse, citing the deputy lead of the Abuse and Violence Program at the University of Melbourne, Laura Tarzia, as claiming this form of abuse can only victimize women.
“Usually it is perpetrated against women by their male intimate partner, but other family members can also be perpetrators. This is particularly the case for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” Tarzia told the outlet.
Tarzia added that awareness of this particular form of abuse is growing but that there is “still a long way to go to put this issue on the radar.”
The outlet lists several examples of reproductive abuse:
He refuses to wear a condom.
He hides your contraceptive pill.
He says if you truly loved him you would terminate your pregnancy.
These are certainly controlling and manipulative behaviors, but left out of the article and Tarzia’s statements are that women are not the only victims of such behavior. Sex therapist and author Bettina Arndt pointed out on Twitter that there are examples of women abusing men using reproduction.
“Red letter day for the ABC. They’ve discovered a new form of DV – reproductive abuse,” Arndt tweeted. “No mention, of course, of a woman’s planned ‘accidental’ pregnancy, or aborting his wanted child, putting holes in the condom, or pressuring him to have more children. “
Tarzia and the ABC suggested women still weren’t aware that they could be this type of victim, without mentioning that men may not be aware of their own victimhood.
“There is limited research on its prevalence; some US studies estimate one in four women, and there is Australian research that estimates one in 10,” the ABC reported. “Experts agree these are likely under-reported — like most forms of violence against women — and more work needs to be done.”
As I’ve documented extensively, studies that purport to find one in four or one in five or even one in 10 are overwhelmingly misleading. They use broad definitions of abuse and rely on responses in a survey, meaning it is reliant upon self-reporting, which can’t be trusted. It certainly shouldn’t be relied upon to make policy decisions.
The article also cites a study from Tarzia that explained “reproductive abuse manifests in three main ways: birth control sabotage (such as destroying birth control pills or removing condoms), pregnancy coercion (pressuring or promoting a pregnancy that is not wanted by the woman) and controlling the outcome of pregnancy (for example, threatening a woman if she doesn’t terminate).”
Of course, these only relate to women, whereas there are situations in each categories where a man could be a victim, such as poking holes in a condom in order to get pregnant, pressuring a man into having a baby or another baby, and threatening a man if he doesn’t pay for an abortion.
The ABC provides no information for men who are the victims of domestic violence, but does include a phone number for an organization that works with men “to end family violence.”