Struggling to survive for the sake of the unborn baby: a grounded theory model of exposure to intimate partner violence during pregnancy

Hafrun Finnbogadottir, Anna-Karin Dykes, Christine Wann-Hansson

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Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy is a serious matter which threatens maternal and fetal health. The aim of this study was to develop a grounded theoretical model of women's experience of IPV during pregnancy and how they handle their situation. Method: Ten interviews with women who had experience of being exposed to IPV during pregnancy were analyzed using the grounded theory approach. Results: The core category 'Struggling to survive for the sake of the unborn baby' emerged as the main concern of women who are exposed to IPV during pregnancy. The core category also demonstrates how the survivors handle their situation. Also, three sub-core categories emerged, 'Trapped in the situation' demonstrates how the pregnant women feel when trapped in the relationship and cannot find their way out. 'Exposed to mastery' demonstrates the destructive togetherness whereby the perpetrator's behavior jeopardizes the safety of the woman and the unborn child. 'Degradation process' demonstrates the survivor's experience of gradual degradation as a result of the relationship with the perpetrator. All are properties of the core category and part of the theoretical model. Conclusion: The theoretical model "Struggling to survive for the sake of the unborn baby" highlights survival as the pregnant women's main concern and explains their strategies for dealing with experiences of violence during pregnancy. The findings may provide a deeper understanding of this complex matter for midwives and other health care providers. Further, the theoretical model can provide a basis for the development and implementation of prevention and intervention programs that meet the individual woman's needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number293
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: The Vårdal Institute (016540000), Child, Family and Reproductive Health (013220003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • Intimate partner violence
  • Pregnancy
  • Experience


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