Domestic Violence in Women May Result in Brain Injury
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Estimate: Every year, domestic violence gives 20 million women a TBI
The news media have made people aware of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in soldiers returning from war and in sports, especially football. But, no one has been tracking TBIs in domestic violence cases. Maria Garay, CEO of the Sojourner Center in Phoenix, Arizona, which is responsible for a new program to identify TBIs in victims of domestic violence, said of the failure to identify TBIs in abuse cases, “The fact that no one is tracking this is, to me, a crime.”
The number of victims of domestic violence with a TBI will dwarf military and sports-related TBIs combined. One estimate says 20 million abused women a year in the US will get a TBI. The Sojourner Center is initiating a program to identify TBIs in women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
One issue is that shelters do not routinely test for a TBI, so one objective is to develop tools that allow shelter workers to routinely screen for TBIs. Another objective is to provide every victim who has a TBI with a treatment plan. Soldiers and athletes are often directed to a rehab center. Victims of domestic abuse with a TBI are not currently helped. The TBI may actually make it more difficult for a woman to leave because it may be difficult to find a job. Kim Gandy, president of the National Network To End Domestic Violence, warns that women who are known to have a TBI may be at a disadvantage in child custody cases. But, Kerri Walker, a coordinator for a women’s shelter and herself a victim of domestic violence said, “The one thing that abusers tell us over and over is that we are stupid. The relief factor for so many women is going to be unmeasurable.” (Full story)
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