A message in response to the Dobbs decision

It is with heavy hearts and a deep concern for survivors of domestic and sexual violence that Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc. (DVIS) issues the following in response to the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. We know this decision will have detrimental and long-lasting effects on the people we have been entrusted to serve.

Domestic violence is about power and control, and many abusers choose to weaponize a partner’s reproductive choices as tools of violence. This is called reproductive coercion. Forcing a partner to become and stay pregnant is, unfortunately, an effective way of keeping them dependent and trapped in a relationship.

Non-consensual sex and coercion, within and outside of abusive relationships, is above all else a violation of bodily autonomy. When survivors are able to choose for themselves whether to continue pregnancies resulting from trauma, it can mean they are safely able to leave abusive relationships, heal, and create new lives for themselves.

  • Non-consensual sex is common. Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 26 men have experienced completed or attempted rape. (CDC)
  • Domestic abuse is common. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe intimate partner violence. (CDC)
  • Reproductive coercion is a common tactic used to exert control in abusive relationships. A survey conducted by the National Hotline on Domestic Violence found that 25% of women said that their partner or ex-partner had tried to force or pressure them to become pregnant. (Futures Without Violence)
  • Rape-related pregnancies are common – especially in abusive relationships. Almost 3 million women in the US have experienced a rape-related pregnancy. 2% of intimate partner rape victims reported rape-related pregnancy compared with those raped by an acquaintance (5.2%) or stranger (6.9%). (Basile et al., 2018)
  • Experiencing unwanted pregnancies is strongly associated with poor physical, mental, and financial health outcomes. (Herd et al., 2018, The Turnaway Study)

When control has been taken away by an abuser, people must be supported in assuming power over their bodies and lives. It is with this power that they build violence-free lives for themselves and their families.

We hope you will join us in supporting survivors by believing them and protecting rights that are critical to their safety and healing.