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Record ID: 1564b2a1-d99c-4f15-9123-6126515c688d
Type: Journal Article
Title: Communicating reproductive coercion in the context of domestic and family violence: Perspectives of service providers supporting migrant and refugee women
Authors: Sheeran, Nicola
Douglas, Heather
Tarzia, Laura
ANRA Topic: Health, primary care and specialist service responses
Sexual violence and sexual harassment
Primary prevention
Drivers of violence against women
ANRA Population: General population
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
Categories: ANROWS Completed Register of Active Research projects
Understanding victimisation and perpetration, and their impacts
Year: 2022
Publisher: Springer Link
Abstract:  The current study explored the language barriers to help-seeking in the context of reproductive coercion and abuse (RCA), domestic and family violence (DFV), and sexual violence (SV), drawing on observations by key informants supporting women from migrant and refugee communities. A lack of shared language has been identified as a key barrier to help seeking for migrant and refugee women experiencing DFV more broadly, though how language intersects with help seeking in the context of RCA is yet to be investigated. We conducted 6 focus groups with 38 lawyers, counsellors, and social workers supporting women experiencing DFV in Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia. Our findings address two main areas. First, consistent with past research in DFV, our participants identified language as a barrier for women when communicating about sexual and reproductive issues in the context of health and police encounters. More specifically, our findings suggest that the inability of health professionals and police to communicate with women who have low or no English proficiency not only negatively impacted victims/survivors’ ability to access support, but also facilitated the perpetration of RCA. We conclude that language can be a mechanism through which coercive control is enacted by perpetrators of RCA and health and policing systems may not be equipped to recognise and address this issue. We also suggest that greater conceptual clarity of RCA is needed within the DFV sector in order to tailor responses.

The research has concluded and the output has been added to the ANROWS library. Please visit for more information on the RAR.


Reproductive coercion and abuse (RCA) interferes with a person’s reproductive autonomy and can be classified into behaviours that are pregnancy promoting or pregnancy preventing (including coerced abortion). However, prevalence data is lacking, and little is known about whether particular forms of RCA are more or less common.


The aim of this study is to explore how frequently people seeking pregnancy counselling reported RCA, the prevalence of the different forms of RCA, and whether there were different trends based on a range of demographic factors.


Data was collected from 5,107 clients seeking counselling support for their pregnancy from two leading providers of pregnancy counselling and sexual and reproductive health services, Marie Stopes Australia and Children by Choice. Counsellors recorded the presence of RCA and whether the behaviour was pregnancy promoting or pregnancy preventing. Demographic factors included age and whether the person was from a migrant or refugee community or an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person.


This research aims to elucidate forms and prevalence of RCA, beginning to fill some of the gaps in understanding about RCA both locally and globally. The findings will inform the further research directions of the collaboration/research group, and be used to support the education provision and service delivery of partner organisations, along with providing a better understanding of RCA within the women's health, violence and healthcare sectors and research community.


Small grants being won to support publication and RA fees; no significant funding to date.


June 2020


January 2022

ISSN: 1573-2851
Appears in Collections:ANROWS Notepad 2022
Journal Articles

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