Studies show that a quarter of all women in Germany have experienced domestic abuse. Pregnant women are especially at risk, as many conflicts may come to a head when a baby is on the way or has just been born. Thus, if you experience domestic abuse, you are not alone. There are many support services and contact points where you can find advice and protection.
Domestic abuse is abuse or violence between people who live or have lived together and who have a relationship (romantic, familial or otherwise) with each other. Abuse is defined as physical, sexual and mental violence. Abuse, in any form, cannot be tolerated. Please remember that you also have the right to seek urgent help in cases of psychological abuse. This can be, for example, if you are constantly yelled at or humiliated. Many women feel that they can or must endure these threats or insults. People who experience this often suffer from anxiety sleep disorders, and feelings of inferiority and helpless. No matter what kind of abuse you are exposed to, your well-being, as well as that of your child, is at risk because of it. Premature births and miscarriages are not uncommon in a violent environment.
If you feel threatened by physical, sexual or psychological abuse, you should contact someone you trust. This can be family, acquaintances or friends. You can also confide in your midwife or doctor. There are also institutions that specialise in counselling people who are experiencing or have experienced abuse. There you will meet specially trained professionals. If you feel directly threatened by physical or sexual abuse in a particular situation, you should call the police. The number in Germany is 110. The police can expel the violent person from the home and order further measures, such as a ban on contact.
People often remain silent for a long time because they have strong feelings of guilt or fear. Some even believe they provoked and perhaps deserved the abuse committed against them. But abuse is never justified. It's important that you work through this guilt and fear in small steps. You can document when and in what form you experienced abuse. This will help you reassure yourself that the abuse may even have been inflicted on you regularly and that it is not an isolated incident. In cases of physical assault, your health care provider should take a picture and make a record. These steps are important so that you have additional evidence when you file charges. Even if that is not what you want to do at the time of the abuse, documentation could become important at a later date.
In an emergency, you can always call 0800 40 40 020. You can get a free initial consultation here. The staff at the Pregnant People in Distress helpline (Schwangere in Not) will also give you information about counselling centres in your area. Counselling is anonymous and offered in several languages.