Addressing Brain Injury in Domestic Violence Survivors

A first-of-its-kind initiative to screen survivors in shelter

Each year, an estimated 10 million adults in the United States experience violence in the home or at the hands of an intimate partner and 74% of these events involve injuries to the head or neck. Yet, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries are rarely mentioned or discussed in a context outside of professional (male) sports.

One reason for this is that there is little research in the United States connecting brain injury to domestic violence—in particular, the physical abuse that comes with domestic violence. Furthermore, there is currently no systematic mechanism to screen domestic violence survivors, many of whom belong to a marginalized group, for traumatic brain injury as a result of their abuse.

In response to this critical gap, VOA-Greater New York has begun a new initiative, in partnership with Safe Living Space, to screen individuals entering our seven domestic violence programs for possible brain injury.

This first-of-its-kind program in the United States will improve how we support survivors by connecting those who are showing symptoms of brain injury to the appropriate medical care. We also aim to fill a significant gap in the medical literature by publishing research that will educate and equip providers across professions to recognize and respond to brain injury.

A Better Road to Justice and Recovery

As a result of this new initiative, domestic violence survivors will have access to better health care and services, the ability to more successfully navigate court, child welfare, and other systems, and will be connected to treatment to mitigate the long-term impacts of brain injury.

There is plenty of research that shows how we should support the hundreds of thousands of athletes with traumatic brain injuries, but no significant investment in the same research for domestic violence survivors, despite it causing more concussions. With our groundbreaking research, we will help get support and care for the millions of domestic violence survivors with traumatic brain injuries who are suffering in silence.

“I’m heartened to see VOA-GNY and Safe Living Space work together to implement this innovative screening program. Steps like this are how we make real change for survivors of domestic violence.”

– Dr. Anita Ravi, Family Physician and CEO & Co-Founder, PurpLE Health Foundation

in partnership with safe living space

VOA-GNY and Safe Living Space have partnered with Northwell Health’s Concussion Program to provide diagnostic services and treatment to survivors

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