, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 74-86
Date: 13 Dec 2011

Exposure to Partner, Family, and Community Violence: Gang-Affiliated Latina Women and Risk of Unintended Pregnancy

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Abstract

While teen pregnancy rates appear to be declining in the USA overall, the rate of decline among young Latinas has been less than other ethnic groups. Among the myriad factors associated with elevated pregnancy rates, for Latina girls living in the inner city, exposure to gang and community violence may be a critical context for increased pregnancy risk. This study explores the relationship between gang involvement and reproductive health, and the pathways through which childhood, family, and relationship violence exposure may lead to unintended pregnancy. Interviews of 20 young adult Latinas with known gang involvement in Los Angeles County were audiotaped, transcribed, and coded for key themes related to violence exposure and reproductive health. Limited access to reproductive health care compounded by male partner sexual and pregnancy coercion, as well as physical and sexual violence, emerged in the interviews. Exposures to interparental domestic violence, childhood physical and sexual abuse, and gang violence were prominent and closely associated with unhealthy and abusive intimate relationships. Adverse childhood experiences and exposure to partner, family, and community violence impact the reproductive lives and choices of young Latina women in gangs. These findings may guide targeted pregnancy prevention efforts among urban gang-affiliated Latinas as well as encourage the integration of sexual violence prevention and reproductive health promotion within gang violence intervention programs.