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Brain Injury Insider

Episode 2: Domestic violence and traumatic brain injury.

Michael Kaplen looks at the worrying rise of domestic violence in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic, and outlines the important questions domestic violence screeners should be asking to help recognize the signs of traumatic brain injury.

Intimate partner violence is at all time highs as a result of the Covid19 crisis.

With stay at home orders, with people losing their jobs, with people in close confinement, we find that more and more individuals are being subject to domestic violence.

But there is never an excuse for domestic violence.

With the Covid19 crisis we need to shed more light on this pandemic, and the hidden brain injuries that can result.

Survivors of domestic violence often report blows to the head, being violently shaken, having their heads struck against the floor, having their head struck against the wall, or even being pushed down into a bed and suffocated.

But first responders, EMS personnel, even hospital personnel, workers at domestic violence centers, and attorneys assisting victims of domestic violence aren't attuned to all of the brain injuries that result from this violent shaking and other activity.

Even brain injury survivors themselves might not be aware that they have suffered a brain injury.

Let's look at some frightening statistics from the CDC.

One in three women over their lifetime in the United States are going to be victims of domestic violence.

Three out of four of these women will suffer some type of brain injury.

Four out of five victims of domestic violence have been in hit in the head or strangled.

Yet most of these women remain undiagnosed and untreated for their resulting traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBI.

TBI is an invisible injury, which often leaves no marks, scratches or bruises.

There are no visual signs of this injury and it's very hard for outsiders to appreciate that this injury even took place.

Coupled with the false belief that victims of domestic violence in order to have suffered a traumatic brain injury need to have been strangled, lost consciousness, struck their head, or have positive imaging studies, these individuals remain undiganosed and untreated.

Here are some questions that domestic violence screeners should be asking:

  • Has your partner ever hit you in the head or struck you against a wall?
  • Has your partner tried to strangle you?
  • Did something happen to cause you to choke, or to have
  • problems with breathing?
  • Was your head pushed against a mattress so you couldn't breathe?
  • Were you caused to fall to the ground or were you thrown against a wall?
  • Do you suffer from headaches?
  • Do you feel dazed or confused?
  • Are you tired all the time?
  • Do you have ringing in your ears, or are you sensitive to bright lights?
  • Do you have memory problems or concentration problems?
  • Are you having problems ready or paying attention?
  • Can you concentrate like you used to?
  • Do you find it difficult to get things done or even controlling your emotions?

These are the tools that must be used to screen domestic violence victims.

Now more than ever, victims of domestic violence must be screened for a traumatic brain injury.

Laws must be enacted in all states mandating that screeners, be they EMS personnel, police, hospital personnel, shelter workers, even attorneys working with victims of domestic violence, must be trained in order to recognize a traumatic brain injury and to ask the right questions.

These laws must be mandated in all 50 states without delay.

Further reading: Traumatic Brain Injury And Domestic Violence (

Audio version

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Brain Injury Insider

michael kaplen
Brain Injury Insider is a weekly video update by The Brain Injury Law Firm ®. We cover the latest news and developments in traumatic brain injury, concussion, and brain injury law.