Midwives and sexual violence: A cross-sectional analysis of personal exposure, education and attitudes in practice

Hannah W. de Klerk*, Janneke T. Gitsels, Ank de Jonge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Around one in three women experience sexual violence during their lifetime. They may need trauma-sensitive maternity care that takes sexual trauma triggers into account. Midwives are similarly likely to have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. It is unknown whether midwives with a personal sexual violence history have a different professional approach to the topic than their colleagues without such history. Aim: To explore whether midwives with a personal sexual violence history are more likely to have received or need education about sexual violence and whether they approach sexual violence differently in practice. Methods: An exploratory online survey was conducted amongst practicing midwives in high resource countries. Odds ratios were calculated for differences between midwives with and without a personal sexual violence history. Findings: Of the 288 participating midwives, 48.6% disclosed a personal sexual violence history. Midwives with a personal sexual violence history showed higher uptake of post-graduate education (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.23–3.44), more accurate prevalence estimation (OR 3.42, 95% CI 2.10–5.57) and more confidence to identify sexual violence history (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.19–3.15). We found no differences in requiring future education, screening practices, other aspects of confidence or time and discomfort barriers. Conclusions: As fellow survivors, midwives with a personal sexual violence history have a unique standpoint towards sexual violence in maternity care practice that may make them more sensitive to the issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e487-e493
JournalWomen and birth
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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