Don't let him sabotage your condoms.

How many movies or TV shows have we seen where a woman pokes holes in her diaphragm, secretly hoping to get pregnant and salvage that dying marriage, or the "other woman" lies about being pregnant to get the guy to leave his girlfriend? It's a tried-and-true plot device that gives women a bad rap, but get ready for that notion to be turned upside-down.

A new report released by the National Domestic Violence Hotline finds that one out of four women in abusive relationships have been victims of "reproductive coercion." In other words, their spouses or significant others are forcing them to have unprotected sex in the hopes that they'll get knocked up.

The hotline callers shared stories of men poking holes in condoms and flushing birth control pills down toilet, opening up a world of story possibilities for TV writers everywhere and giving wife beaters who haven't tried this method some very bad ideas.

Prior to having my daughter last December, I wrote about soap operas -- yes, they still exist! -- and I can't say I recall a single scenario like this ever being played out. A few years ago on my favorite soap, General Hospital, Sonny's evil brother, Ric, secretly slipped birth control pills into his wife Elizabeth's food because he had kidnapped Sonny's pregnant wife, Carly, and was keeping her in a panic room until she delivered her baby, which he for some reason planned to give to Elizabeth for them to raise. (Elizabeth now has three children by three different fathers, so she's not suffering for kids.) But men flushing women's pills down the toilet? It's a brilliant plot device.

In all seriousness, it's deplorable that this form of abuse exists. First of all, it's bringing an innocent child into an unhealthy, possibly violent situation. And while I assume it's another way for the man to exert control in an abusive relationship, I have to wonder what the man ultimately gets out of it. Would he stick around to raise the child or eventually tire of being a dad? And how does he know the woman isn't going to run off with their unborn child?

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, a professor involved in the domestic abuse questionnaire, suggests that these men have a deep desire for a nuclear family and want to replace or make up for the dysfunctional family from which they came. I don't see how creating an unwanted pregnancy makes the perfect family. It's reproductive rape!

If this really is the phenomenon that researchers say it is, these women need to get an IUD, get help, and hopefully flee their unhealthy situations ASAP.

Have you ever known someone who was the victim of reproductive coercion?

 

Image via styro/Flickr