One social worker at Wollongong Hospital comes across a woman suffering reproductive violence every day, but it is an issue that's not often spoken about.
The Illawarra Women's Health Centre is opening up a conversation about reproductive violence at a morning tea event on Monday, December 4, as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.
Miranda Batchelor, community liaison and client support manager at the centre, said reproductive violence entailed such actions as forcing a woman to get pregnant, coercing a woman into an abortion, coercing a woman into pregnancy, sexual assault, forcing a woman to take birth control, or forcing a woman to stay off birth control.
"It's a very effective and powerful means of control in an abusive relationship because the perpetrators can frequently use the children to control the women," Mrs Batchelor said.
Reproductive violence was also a way of keeping a woman in the home and out of the community and work, she said, which consequently restricted her access to financial resources.
Mrs Batchelor said it was an issue that was not spoken about enough.
"It's a very heavy topic. When I use words like abortion and rape, people have a very visceral response," she said.
But she said it was important to talk about so women were not afraid to come forward and seek help if they experienced it.
At Monday's morning tea, attendees will hear from an antenatal social worker at Wollongong Hospital, who has reported that she encounters a woman each day experiencing reproductive violence.
There will also be an opportunity for women to write letters to local MPs, to tell their stories, share their ideas, and voice what needs to change.
Mrs Batchelor said more resources were needed in the Illawarra to provide safe and timely access to abortion and long-acting reversible contraception.
At the moment, she said, it was very difficult and costly to get these services.
"We have women... who are trying to secretly obtain birth control, so [the perpetrator's] not aware, and that needs to be done in a safe, timely manner," Mrs Batchelor said.
Ideally, she wants to see a freestanding, government-funded abortion and contraceptive clinic in the region, similar to ones that already exist in Canberra and South Australia.
Women are invited to attend the morning tea if they want to learn more and hear discussion about the topic.
Mrs Batchelor said they did not need to have personal experience of the issue, nor did they have to write a letter.
The morning tea will be held at the Illawarra Women's Health Centre at 2/10 Belfast Avenue, Warilla at 11am on Monday, December 4.
It is the third morning tea so far, with previous events seeing Shellharbour MP Anna Watson speak and the organisation Good Shepherd discuss financial abuse.
The theme for this year's 16 Days of Activism is 'UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls' and the United Nations is calling for all members of the community to pull together, from individuals to government, business and organisations.
"That's how we're going to create real lasting change and end violence against women," Mrs Batchelor said.