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Between desire and rape - narratives about being intimate partners and becoming pregnant in a violent relationship
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS). Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS).
2013 (English)In: Global health action, ISSN 1654-9880, Vol. 6, 20984- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Women subjected to intimate partner violence (IPV) experience different forms of abuse. Sexual violence is often under-reported because physically abused women, in particular, might see forced sex as an obligatory part of the sexual interplay. Accordingly, abused women have less sexual autonomy and experience unplanned pregnancies more often than other women. Objective: To describe and analyse nine Swedish women's retrospective stories about IPV with a focus on power and coping strategies as intimate partners, particularly regarding experiences of sex, contraception, and becoming pregnant. Design: Nine qualitative interviews were carried out with women who had been subjected to very severe violence in their intimate relationships and during at least one pregnancy. The stories were analysed using 'Narrative method' with the emphasis on the women's lived experiences. Results: Despite the violence and many contradictory and ambivalent feelings, two of the women described having sex as desirable, reciprocal and as a respite from the rest of the relationship. The other seven women gave a negative and totally different picture, and they viewed sex either as obligatory or as a necessity to prevent or soothe aggression or referred to it as rape and as something that was physically forced upon them. The women's descriptions of their pregnancies ranged from being carefully planned and mostly wanted to completely unwelcome and including flawed contraceptive efforts with subsequent abortions. Conclusions: Women subjected to IPV have diverse and complex experiences that have effects on all parts of the relationship. Intimacy might for some turn into force and rape, but for others sex does not necessarily exclude pleasure and desire and can be a haven of rest from an otherwise violent relationship. Accordingly, women may tell stories that differ from the ones expected as 'the typical abuse story', and this complexity needs to be recognized and dealt with when women seek healthcare, especially concerning contraceptives, abortions, and pregnancies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
CoAction Publishing, 2013. Vol. 6, 20984- p.
Keyword [en]
spouse abuse, sexuality, pregnancy intention, gender identity, narratives, Sweden
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-85577DOI: 10.3402/gha.v6i0.20984ISI: 000328472300001OAI: diva2:694516
Swedish Research Council, K2002-27X14290-01A
Available from: 2014-02-06 Created: 2014-02-06 Last updated: 2014-02-14Bibliographically approved

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Edin, KerstinNilsson, Bo
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Department of NursingUmeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS)Epidemiology and Global HealthDepartment of culture and media studies
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Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

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