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Episode 52: Brain Injury & Domestic Violence

In this episode of Brain Injury Insider, host Michael Kaplen discusses the serious problem of domestic violence in the United States, and the lack of proper assessment and treatment for domestic violence victims who may have suffered a brain injury.

We often say that brain injury has reached epidemic levels in the United States, and nothing more typifies this silent epidemic than brain injury and domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control tell us that one out of every four women, sometime during their life will be a victim of domestic violence. And we also know that 90% of these women will be victims of head trauma and resulting brain damage. And unfortunately, although these statistics are so frightening and really incomprehensible, many of these individuals go unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated.

They get to hospitals. They don’t receive proper care before they get to the hospitals. Police or emergency personnel may think that they’re crazy, may think that they’re faking their problems, may dismiss their problems, and never even refer them for care when they get to the courthouse. Unfortunately, the judicial system often ignores these injuries, treats these individuals as if they’re crazy, takes their children away, and again, fails to provide proper care and assistance.

What causes these injuries? Well, can be something as simple as shaking or slamming a woman against the wall or punching her or pushing her face into a mattress, attempting to suffocate her.

There is no end to the way that a brain injury can take place as a result of domestic violence.

But yet, although these victims sustain these injuries, they are again victimized because headaches are dismissed, dizziness is dismissed. Complaints of forgetfulness don’t count when they get to hospitals, even though they have a broken arm or a black and blue eye, or complaining of significant headaches or neck pain. Are they referred for concussion screening? Unfortunately, no, they are not.

When they get to a domestic violence shelter, are they screened for a traumatic brain injury? Unfortunately, often they are not. When they meet with a lawyer, does that lawyer explore the physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive consequences of a brain injury to determine if these individuals should be referred for diagnosis, care and treatment? Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen.

And when court proceedings are instituted either for an order of protection or in child custody proceedings or in divorce proceedings, oftentimes these individuals show up late to court, don’t show up at all to court when they get to court, are confused, can’t speak properly, can’t get the right words out to express themselves, act emotionally or in other inappropriate ways, and are frowned upon rather than the system looking at these individuals and understanding that what is being seen are the tragic consequences of a brain injury.

One out of four women, 90% of these individuals sustaining head trauma and brain injury. I don’t have a calculator with me today, so I haven’t stopped to figure out how many people this really entails, but I can tell you it’s an awful lot.

This is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and this month in the year 2022, we must seriously confront the issue of domestic violence, intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injury provide these individuals with proper care and proper support. Make sure that they don’t lose their children for inappropriate reasons. Make sure that the medical profession is there to make a diagnosis and that insurance carriers and government insurance programs provide rehabilitation to these individuals.

Audio version

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