Subtle sexual violence: limiting access to birth control

When I was a medical student, I met a patient with a controlling husband who didn’t allow her to use birth control. Of course, she eventually became pregnant and they had a son. After a month of taking care of him, her husband told her that he completely supported her decision to get birth control and offered to drive her to all her doctors’ appointments!

While that story had a funny ending, many women are denied access to birth control by their partners. (It should also be pointed out that women are denied access to birth control by legislation, social disapproval, and other larger forces, but that’s not the focus of our topic today.)

As Grace Shih points out in this Bedsider article, birth control sabotage is all too common in abusive relationships. It can be psychologically and emotionally draining on women, and it may be the first sign of an abusive relationship.

However, there are tamper-proof forms of birth control such as the Depo shot or the IUD that are available. This article by Kat Stoeffel in The Cut shows that more physicians who take care of women’s needs should be sensitive to when a woman might be suffering from birth control sabotage.

Dr. Shih’s article also makes reference to a neat app called Circle of Six intended to give women a quick link to their support network when they feel uncomfortable or need backup. You can discreetly ask a friend to call you to provide an interruption or ask someone to walk you home.

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About the friendly intern

Ask a question: The Friendly Intern My personal blog: Pathos and Pathology
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