The Sexual Abuse to Maternal Mortality Pipeline

The Sexual Abuse to Maternal Mortality Pipeline

Jul252019
Jul262019
1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201

An Institute to Unify Sexual Assault and Reproductive Justice Advocates

From 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM

At Long Island University, Brooklyn

1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201

$275 – $400

Black Women's Blueprint / Institute for Gender and Cultural Competence / Farah Tanis: ftanis@blueprintny.org

 

While almost 20% (50 of 275) pregnant women assessed reported having experienced some form of sexual abuse across their lifespan (Ancient Song Doula Services), sexual assault and reproductive justice advocates do not yet have the appropriate framework, models and tools to address sexualized violence in reproductive healthcare. Sexual abuse and assault survivors report lasting impact throughout their reproductive life-span. In fact, there are over 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape each year in the United States (DOJ), while a recently completed study by Black Women's Blueprint found closer to seventy percent (70%) of girls experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18.

Penny Simkin’s book, When Survivors Give Birth, identifies the challenges between survivors and service providers through case studies and expertise on the pervasive lack of knowledge among diverse professionals who should be proficient in survivor-centered and trauma-informed care when engaging survivors, whether in reproductive justice or sexual violence intervention settings. Particularly, Black, Native American, and Latina women are affected. When women of color walk into a medical institution or community center, all of our trauma shows up at the door with us. Sexual trauma greatly impacts the lives of women of color at varying points of receiving reproductive health care—beginning way before puberty, to the first visit to the gynecologist, through pregnancy and across the gamut of obstetrics services. Interviews with survivors reveal when women of color's lived experiences are not recognized and not addressed, it is difficult to make or keep their prenatal or maternal healthcare appointments especially in areas where health clinics are scarce. Inadequate prenatal care and psycho-social stressors on pregnant survivors during pregnancy and the birthing process will trigger or exacerbate health complications. They will experience postpartum issues and their doctors, trauma counselors and advocates will not link those issues to past or recent sexual trauma. We believe survivor-centered approaches can drastically reduce maternal mortality and the continuum of violence experienced by women across their reproductive lifespan.

This groundbreaking convening, “The Sexual Abuse to Maternal Mortality Pipeline," is a two-day institute to bridge the reproductive justice and anti-violence movements through a rights-based framework if for gender-violence and sexual assault prevention advocates, reproductive justice and reproductive health advocates, public health, medical and holistic care practitioners seeking to transform the dynamics that can eventually lead to maternal mortality. The convening will raise awareness about how rape culture shows up in our programs and institutions, hindering women's access to trauma-informed services and reproductive health care. We will demonstrate the correlation to maternal mortality while providing a framework, model and tools developed by Black Women's Blueprint for public health, medical professionals, reproductive justice and sexual assault prevention advocates to radically shift the current paradigms.

Participants will:

  • Learn about the pipeline connecting gender violence to maternal mortality.
  • Listen to survivors about their interconnected experiences and request for advocates.
  • Discuss ways to unite the reproductive justice and gender violence fields.
  • Identify new ways to address maternal health from understanding this pipeline.