Today, I want to address a subject that is still not known to many people, but has received rising attention in the past few years: Reproductive Abuse and Coercion.
Reproductive abuse or coercion is the manipulation of someone’s reproductive health or decision-making as a means of controlling another person.
Some of us may have experienced reproductive abuse or coercion without even realizing it or categorized it as emotional, sexual, or physical abuse. While for the most part fertile women are affected by reproductive abuse or coercion, it can affect both, men and women.
If you experienced any of the following, you experienced reproductive abuse or coercion:
- coercing a partner to use contraceptives (affects women)
- coercing a partner to stop using contraceptives (affects men & mostly women)
- manipulation of contraceptives to get someone or become pregnant (affects men & women)
- hiding contraceptives to get someone or become pregnant (affects men & women)
- lying about being on birth control (affects men)
- making a partner feel guilty about the use of contraceptives (affects men & mostly women)
- making a partner feel guilty about being childless (affects men & women)
- removal of a condom without letting the other partner know is a form of rape, also known as stealthing (affects women)
- pushing a partner to having sex without a condom for a better feeling (affects women)
- using physical force or violence to get someone or become pregnant (affects men & women)
- coercing a partner to get sterilized (affects men & women)
- lying about having had a sterilization to get someone or become pregnant (affects men & women)
- self-insemination without letting the partner know (affects men)
- forcing a partner to get an abortion (affects women)
- making pre-emptive threats for or against pregnancy or abortion (affects women)
- threatening a partner to leave or cheat (affects men & women)
Reproductive abuse is not the mere discussion of birth control options with your partner or discussing pregnancy and the wish to have children one day. These are common stages that every relationship may or may not go through. However, if these discussions become a recurring subject, while you had already thought you had found a solution together or your repeated concerns are being ignored or ridiculed, then it enters the realm of reproductive abuse. While your partner may act empathetically and understanding, if the discussions keep making you feel uncomfortable or guilty as your choices or concerns are being questioned or held against you, you are being manipulated to accept or agree to something that you do not want and will most likely regret in the future.