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Ensuring equitable care for all survivors of domestic abuse

How different minority identities such as race, sex and class intersect to create and perpetuate disparities.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Seminal work by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) on how different minority identities or statuses such as race, sex and class crossover to create and perpetuate inequality informs our understanding about barriers to getting help for domestic abuse.

Data from the ONS (2018) indicates that women are at increased risk of domestic abuse if they have a disability or chronic illness, if they live in poverty or social housing, and if they identify as bisexual.

When these identities ‘overlap’ the risk can be compounded and barriers to escaping abuse are proportionately greater (O’Doherty et al., 2016). People from sexual and gender minorities (that is transgender and those who identify as non-binary or genderqueer) or with other minority status (such as being a migrant person) presenting in maternity settings may already be subjected to discrimination or fear they will be treated differently; getting help for domestic abuse can seem impossible to access.

Recognising these aspects of people’s lives and being mindful of how race and gender biases, shown by individuals, groups and institutions, hugely affects the quality of care provided and can seriously undermine attempts to address domestic violence and abuse during pregnancy.

Race, gender and other biases by individuals, groups and institutions can seriously undermine quality of care as well as victims’ attempts to address domestic violence and abuse in their own lives.

In the context of referral for DVA, people’s ‘protected’ characteristics should be taken into account and in collaboration with the person, identify the resources and agencies that are likely to be most helpful to them. This could, for example, be an organisation led by members of the same community or group or set up specifically to support individuals affected by certain concerns. Practical tools on supporting survivors of DVA in multicultural contexts are available from Futures without Violence.


Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(8). Web link

O’Doherty, L.J., Taft, A., McNair, R., & Hegarty, K. (2016). Fractured identity in the context of intimate partner violence: Barriers to and opportunities for seeking help in health settings. Violence Against Women, 22(2), 225–248. DOI link

Office for National Statistics. (2018). Women most at risk of experiencing partner abuse in England and Wales: Years ending March 2015 to 2017. Web link

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Pregnancy

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