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Domestic violence and traumatic brain injury - decisively linked

With media spotlights often on athletes and head injuries, it can be tempting to overlook the link between domestic violence and traumatic brain injuries in women. Domestic violence is a real threat in Arizona homes, though.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 109 victims of domestic violence in Arizona died as a result of their injuries in 2014. Two years earlier, the state had "ranked 8th in the nation in femicides per capita." Across the U.S., the NCADV reports, "1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men...have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner."

The National Women's Health Network is drawing attention to the link between domestic violence and traumatic brain injuries in women. Pointing out the extreme symptoms that can result from even a mild TBI - swinging emotions, headaches and sensitivities to light and sound - the NWHN says the delicate features of a woman's skull and neck make her more vulnerable than a man to significant injury. 

Females are at higher risk in other ways, too. In domestic violence situations in which the male is the perpetrator, women can feel stuck. The NWHN explains why. From an outsider's perspective, it seems a woman should easily be able to walk away from a violent situation, but when she has suffered a TBI, it often affects her decision-making powers. She may or may not realize the symptoms she is experiencing come from a brain injury, and she may not receive timely treatment. 

The NWHN points out that staff members at shelters do not always understand when women are suffering from TBIs either, a fact that further complicates their ability to escape a dangerous situation.


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