Making the Connection to Alcohol and Substance Use

The International Journal of Women’s Health has just published a review article on intimate partner violence in pregnancy called “Partner violence during pregnancy: prevalence, effects, screening and management.” The article provides a global perspective on partner violence in pregnancy, its relationship with various outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm birth, and how partner violence relates to other physical and emotional concerns. It also attempts to tackle the tricky subject of screening for violence by health care and social service providers.

The article briefly discusses the relationship between intimate partner violence and alcohol use during pregnancy. While women are typically motivated to reduce their substance use during pregnancy, women who are in abusive relationships may not be able to do so. Stress, physical pain, emotional distress, or the controlling influence of abuse can make reducing or abstaining from substance use more difficult or impossible. Take a look at the Power and Control Model from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence below to see some of the interrelationships between alcohol and substance use and abuse.

POWER AND CONTROL MODEL FOR WOMEN’S SUBSTANCE ABUSE Copyright © 1996 Marie T. O’Neil, adapted from the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, Duluth, MN. Available from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Statistics on rates of intimate partner violence vary depending on how it is measured (e.g., physical vs. emotional abuse, police reports or population surveys), but here are some Canadian statistics (for additional statistics and sources, click here):

  • In a study of female family practice patients, 15% revealed current or recent experience of intimate partner violence
  • Of women who were abused during pregnancy, approximately 18% reported that they had suffered a miscarriage or other internal injuries as a result of the abuse (Health Canada, 2004)
  • Of those women abused during pregnancy, 63.9% indicated an increase in violence during pregnancy.

The International Journal of Women’s Health is an open access journal and you can download the full text of the article for free from here.


Bailey, B.A. (2010). Partner violence during pregnancy: prevalence, effects, screening and management. International Journal of Women’s Health, 2: 183-19