It only takes 9 seconds to add another victim of brain injury in the United States. On the annual level, it adds up to 3.5 million. Many of them are casualties of domestic violence.

Break the Silence

It is essential to understand that violence and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often walking hand in hand. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that some 11%  TBIs has death or hospitalization as an outcome in connection with an assault. This number is low probably because many other TBIs or concussions go unreported and undetermined.

Also, the problem with TBI and violence is that violence is not only the cause of TBI — it can be a result of TBI as well. Symptoms of TBI can be problems with perception and conduct, which can further result in aggressive attitude that leads to violent action. TBI can manifest as a lack of insight and reasoning, and a resulting vulnerability, that can lead to victimization. Depression after TBI can increase the possibility of self-inflicted bodily injuries, including suicide.

The goal of this text is to raise awareness about the correlation between TBI and domestic violence.

Intimate Partner Violence

The intimate partner violence (IPV) stands for domestic violence as we often call it. It can be spouse abuse and includes even former partners and children.

According to the statistics, there are about 4.8 million women and around 2.9 million men in the U.S. that are the casualties of IPV yearly. This number would surely be higher, but many victims do not report  IPV to the authorities. Those people often think that no one will take them seriously.

This reason may particularly be true for people with brain trauma. First of all, they often rely on their partners for the support, financial or other. Secondly, they may have problems with communication due to their TBI. Furthermore, the violator could even say that the sufferer should not be taken seriously because of the TBI. Sometimes casualties do not report the victimization because they are afraid of losing guardianship for their children, or other negative effects in connection to their TBI.


Survivors suffer from all kinds of violence — physical, financial, sexual, severe beating, strangulation, etc. Frequent blows to the head leave long-lasting effects to the brain of the victims.

Reports said that some of the victims felt the consequences even months later. Many have never realized that some of the disruptions, lack of concentration, emotional outbursts, or similar are a direct consequence of TBI caused by repeated acts of violence.

The last researches find out that the repeated blows to the head and oxygen deprivation lead to ongoing health issues among victims of domestic violence. Because of the poor understanding of these lasting harms and injuries, many women may be misguided.

One out of three women in the U.S. is suffering from IPV.  As all the cases are not registered, many of them are walking around with unidentified brain trauma.

It is confirmed that many survivors have likely been exposed to repeated head injury and oxygen deprivation. That combination could deepen the problems and lead to memory loss, anxiety, difficulty understanding, nightmares, loss of motivation, and trouble with hearing and vision.

Almost half of the women involved in these studies stated that they had been hit or shoved with some object to the head so many times that they could not even remember. One in five were strangled or choked numerous times. In many of these cases, survivors experienced both multiple times.

Changes in Ohio

Programs for women involved in domestic brutality, induced changes all over Ohio. Advocacy groups all over the state are involved in those programs and they help the survivors. The “CARE” model is created. It stands for “Connect, Acknowledge, Respond, and Evaluate.”

Training and developing materials focused on these “invisible injuries” to the brain are adjusted. The CARE is encouraging providers and agencies to suit up care plans to the distinctive needs of these women and to help them find medical care so they can get correct diagnosis and treatment.

Currently, the CARE is evaluating the results of this new program and making assessments of how well it is working.

Another ongoing study, led by Ohio State Assistant Professor of Social Work, Cecilia Mengo, are addressing the challenges that employees within agencies are facing in dealing with the complex mental needs of survivors. This study is oriented to find out care models that are more suitable for survivors who have mental health disability. Therefore, we can see that things are moving in the right direction because it is crucial to recognize all the challenges that advocates and survivors are facing. Special attention should be directed to areas with insufficient connection to counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

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