The Disabilities Trust has published a discussion paper to highlight the hidden impact of brain injury for survivors of domestic abuse.
The paper is the result of a roundtable discussion held at the end of 2019, which brought together academics, domestic abuse charities and the NHS, in a ground-breaking discussion to explore the issues of domestic abuse through the lens of brain injury. The debate was held in a bid to discuss how women could be better supported through improved research, policy and practice in our communities.
The meeting followed the publication of earlier findings of the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI), domestic abuse and female offending, detailed in The Disabilities Trust's report, ‘Making The Link: Brain Injury and Female Offending’.
A two-year study at HMP/YOI Drake Hall found nearly two-thirds (64%) of women reported having experienced a brain injury, the leading cause of which was domestic abuse (62%).
An additional analysis has shown:
- 72% reported violence as the cause of their brain injury
- 61% of those with a brain injury caused by domestic violence reported having self-harmed, compared to women who reported other causes of brain injury (29%)
- Of those with a traumatic brain injury, 40% had a mental health diagnosis, and women with a brain injury were seven times more likely to have a mental health diagnosis than those without
The distressing findings illustrate the complex experience and vulnerability of women who have experienced the trauma of both brain injury and domestic abuse. Alongside other frequently reported factors, such as substance misuse and unstable housing, the need to support women holistically, not just within the Criminal Justice System, is fundamental to improving these women’s lives.
At a time when some domestic violence charities have reported a 10-fold increase in visits to their website, The Trust hopes that the findings will open a discussion with Government, and the wider sector, to support the needs of women who have experiences both brain injury and domestic abuse.