Traumatic Brain Injury from Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnant Individuals

Traumatic Brain Injury from Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnant Individuals
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-10-19
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Traumatic Brain Injury from Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnant Individuals
Unit 2Transcript: Traumatic Brain Injury from Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnant Individuals
Unit 3Workbook: Traumatic Brain Injury from Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnant Individuals
Unit 4Recording: Traumatic Brain Injury from Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnant Individuals

A Sports Illustrated feature on the rate of recurrence of concussions in sports generated much attention to the effect of brain injury on athletes. However, at least three decades earlier, the prevalence of concussions in women victims of domestic violence has been published. The reality is women and children in domestic violence settings are more likely to suffer a brain injury than athletes or even soldiers. This session delves into the intricate intersection of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and DV, including its profound implications on victims, particularly pregnant women and their unborn children.

Leading the discussion is Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz who leads the Neurotrauma & Social Impact research team as a joint venture between the Phoenix Veterans Administration Health Care System and the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. Their goal is to utilize research on traumatic brain injury, domestic violence, and child abuse, among others to improve the health of communities.

Specifics of his presentation include:

  • What traumatic brain injury is, what causes TBI, what TBI damage does to neurons, and how the damage manifest as brain-related deficits or dysfunctions.
  • How the damage brought about by TBI can spread to other body organs.
  • The wide range of TBI symptoms that may manifest, the three categories that they fall under, and how these can be observed in the beloved Disney character, Goofy.
  • How research on TBI focused on men due to their involvement in high-risk activities, and the reality that there is a much larger incidence of TBI in women and children in domestic violence settings.
  • Statistics that illustrate how domestic violence impacts women, the types and number of injuries women sustain, its likelihood to result in head injury, and the underreporting of DV-related TBI.
  • Research and the two published cases of individuals who have died of DV-related head injury that highlight the intersection between DV and TBI.
  • Findings of the research in terms of the profile of the perpetrators and victims, the actions leading to the injury and the resulting injuries, and the victims’ help-seeking behavior.
  • DV-related TBI in pregnant women: How common it is, and research findings that indicate how it creates a risk for miscarriage, pre-term birth, and impacts the unborn child physically and psychologically.
  • Support strategies to help victims of DV-related TBI:
    • Translating sports and combat-related resources to get victims to recover from injury.
    • Mobilizing helpers to identify victims as early as possible and provide immediate care and resources such as housing, mental health support, and assistance throughout the legal process.
    • Utilizing collaborative groups who help with research and raising awareness on DV-related TBI.
  • Adopting a mindset where someone who experienced DV is assumed to have TBI and must enter the concussion protocol as the patients or even the first responders and advocates don’t always recognize the symptoms of TBI.
  • The threefold call to action to…
    • Recognize the problem by supporting research, improving resources, advocating funding, and generating education materials.
    • Leverage athletes’ and celebrities’ influence to create public awareness campaigns.
    • Obligate legislators to enact zero-tolerance policies against abuse that results in neurological impairments.

Points raised during the Q&A are about:

  • Whether strangulation causes TBI.
  • Whether stiffer penalties on offenders can deter abuse and impact victims.
  • Whether a single event or multiple battering causes TBI.
  • Long-term effects of TBI that advocates must watch out for.
  • Differential impact of the same force on different victims.
  • Effects of TBI on the mother’s subsequent pregnancies.
  • Presence of linking factors between IPV and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
  • How time elapsed from abuse can impact testing for TBI damage.


Other Webinars with this Organization

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Audience Comments

  • “How TBI can affect different parts of your body and your unborn child. That was eye-opening!” — Angel
  • “The Q&A at the end was great!! They asked some of the same questions I had and I appreciate all the answers. I work with several clients who have TBI due to years of domestic violence and info is appreciated.” — Christy
  • “I really appreciated the statistics and how each TBI is different no matter how similar the incident happened from victim to victim.” — Nicole
  • “The most valuable to me was the list of groups researching and sharing information on TBI and IPV.” — Sienna
  • “IPV TBI is unique in that if the victim is pregnant, it not only may affect other organs but may also affect the fetus.” — Wanda
  • “As a Victim Advocate, this information is very important for us to better understand the information we are relaying to those victims who have questions related to this topic.” — Nina


Additional Resources
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