One in three women will experience abuse or violence in her lifetime and a significant percentage of women with previous and current experiences of abuse and violence will use alcohol or other drugs to cope, or as a way to stay safe by appeasing an abusive partner [1, 2].
Among women using alcohol or other drugs, especially those who find it difficult to stop during pregnancy, there is a high prevalence of abuse and violence. Research with 80 birth mothers of children with FASD reported that 95% of the women had been seriously sexually, physically, or emotionally abused at some point in their lives and a further 80% currently lived with partners who did not want them to stop drinking . Violence- and trauma-informed services take into account the dynamics of abuse and violence and the impact of trauma, and integrate this knowledge into all aspects of service delivery [4, 5]. Violence- and trauma-informed care recognizes that many women accessing services have experienced violence or are currently in an abusive relationship, and that great care must be taken to ensure that their physical or emotional safety is not further jeopardized . Working in a violence and trauma-informed way does not require disclosure of violence/abuse nor does it require treatment of trauma; it is about working in ways that do not retraumatize but instead support a woman’s safety and healing [7, 8]