March is Brain Injury Awareness Month! Did you know that approximately 50% of victims of intimate partner violence experience multiple traumatic brain injuries? We recently sat down with psychiatric nurse practitioner, Deb York in our most recent NEI Podcast episode, “Silent Scars: Traumatic Brain Injury in Victims of Intimate Partner Violence” to discuss this forgotten population and what we can do to raise awareness about this. Here is part of the transcript:
NEI: When we talk about intimate partner violence, could you describe for us, or explain to us exactly what we mean when we talk about an intimate partner?
YORK: So this, very broadly defined is a person who has a close personal relationship, and this can be characterized by many, many things. Inclusive, though we look at an emotional connection. We look at regular contact. We look at an ongoing physical contact, and possibly even a sexual relationship as well. To identify as a couple, potentially and the familiarity and knowledge about each other’s lives. The relationship does not necessarily, of course need to involve all of these dimensions, but those are characteristically the first- say- top five. In intimate partner violence, though, this is a domestic violence, by a current or former spouse or partner in an intimate relationship. And it’s against the other spouse or partner, and it can also take many different forms. So, this is inclusive of physical, verbal, emotional, economic, and sexual abuse. The CDC actually defines domestic violence into two types. So, reciprocal in which both partners are violent, and non-reciprocal violence, in which one partner is violent against the other.
NEI: We are aware that intimate partner violence is more prevalent in our country than people think. There’s approximately ten million, annually, and yet only 35% receive medical care for their injuries. Why do you think that is?
YORK: There are three top reasons, In my opinion: The fear of reporting, for potential for further retaliation, the lack of education and screening in this population, this includes sparse resources as well for diagnosis and treatment. It is that cycle of abuse that is then propagated by serious repetitive injury, and if someone enters the emergency room for example, and has a temperature, immediately a complete blood count, and complete metabolic panel are drawn, and when someone who has an injury from an intimate partner, they may enter the emergency room with the perpetrator. There are potential legal complications, children involved. It’s a multifactorial canvas, that’s never the same color.
For more on this topic, click on the link for the full episode: Silent Scars: Traumatic Brain Injury in Victims of Intimate Partner Violence
Additional information on traumatic brain injury and intimate partner violence: