Black Women in NC Face Higher Rates of Pregnancy-Associated Intimate Partner Violence

Mar 20, 2024 | Healthcare, News

March is Women’s History Month, and one pressing public health issue that 1 in 3 women will face in their lifetime is intimate partner violence (IPV) (1). In 2020, almost 46,000 women were killed worldwide by their partners, meaning that a woman is killed by someone related to her every 11 minutes (2). In North Carolina, the rate of domestic violence increased in 2023 compared to prior years. Guns are the most common weapon, accounting for 80% of the femicides in North Carolina (3).

Intimate Partner Violence: Major Public and Maternal Health Concern

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a major public health and maternal health concern, with many women experiencing IPV for the first time or at an increased rate during pregnancy (4). While there are similar rates of IPV in White and Black women, pregnancy-related IPV disproportionately affects Black women across the nation. Studies have shown that almost 6% of Black women report pregnancy-related IPV, which is significantly higher than the U.S. average (5). Pregnancy-related IPV exacerbates the risks of maternal mortality among Black women in North Carolina, as well as pregnancy complications such as low birth weight, preterm birth, preterm pre-labor rupture, antepartum hemorrhage, and miscarriage (6).

Overcoming Barriers: Addressing IPV in Black Communities

Some barriers Black women face when seeking help are fear of retaliation, lack of culturally competent healthcare staff, limited access to affordable social services, and racist stereotypes within the healthcare system (7). Addressing pregnancy-related IPV within the Black community will require a multifaceted approach to address public health disparities, cultural sensitivity practices in health facilities and domestic violence shelters, and educational resources in community spaces. Understanding the unique needs and experiences of Black women in North Carolina is essential to reduce the disproportionate impact of pregnancy-associated IPV in the community and pressure policymakers to address this public health concern on the local, state, and national levels.


  1. Results of the fifth edition of the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI).
  2. Killings of women and girls by their intimate partner or other family members
  3. Domestic violence homicides are rising in NC along with need for services, data shows
  4. Who is being screened for intimate partner violence?
  5. Zhang L, Dailey RK, Price M, Misra DP, Giurgescu C. Intimate partner violence, prenatal stress, and substance use among pregnant Black women. Public Health Nurs. 2021 Jul;38(4):555-563. doi: 10.1111/phn.12878. Epub 2021 Feb 15. PMID: 33590543; PMCID: PMC10478037.
  6. Alhusen JL, Ray E, Sharps P, Bullock L. Intimate partner violence during pregnancy: maternal and neonatal outcomes. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015 Jan;24(1):100-6. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.4872. Epub 2014 Sep 29. PMID: 25265285; PMCID: PMC4361157.
  7. African American Attitudes toward Domestic Violence and DV Assistance
Thais Rivas

Thais Rivas

Health Equity Fellow

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