Teen dating violence and personal stories
I’ve always felt that sexual violence is undoubtedly a reproductive justice issue, as it concerns a woman’s right and ability to make choices about her sexuality and her body.
But here’s an even more tangible reason why sexual violence and the choice when and if to have a child are inextricably connected.
Underneath the discourse about the educational strategies needed to prevent teen pregnancy lies a much harder and complex issue: Violence in girls’ lives leaves them at risk for teen pregnancy—especially for girls of color.
A significant correlation exists between childhood sexual abuse and teen pregnancy.
The sexually abused girls initiated intercourse a year earlier than their peers and engaged in a wide variety of high-risk behaviors, including substance abuse.
The average age of first intercourse for abused girls is 13.8, in contrast to the national average of 16.2.
Up to 20 percent of girls become pregnant as the direct result of rape.* The Harvard School of Public Health’s exhaustive research on the lives of girls demonstrates that girls who are victims of violence from dating partners are four to six times more likely than non-abused girls to become pregnant, and eight to nine times more likely to attempt suicide.
It’s one that I think everyone ought to read, because it so clearly illustrates the connection between sexual violence and “traditional” reproductive rights issues.
Only 28 percent of the abused girls used birth control at first intercourse, compared to 74 percent of girls in the general population.
(all links from original piece) Teen pregnancy isn’t simply about girls and boys being promiscuous, or lacking access to sex education or contraception.
Too often teen pregnancy is about girls losing agency over their bodies because of the unbearable injuries of being sexually violated.
An estimated 60 percent of teen girls’ first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape, or attempted rape.
In one study, between 30 and 44 percent of teen mothers were victims of rape or attempted rape.