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Researchers found that more than four out of five Ohio women who had been physically abused by their partners had suffered a head injury.
A study that found domestic violence survivors had sustained staggering rates of head trauma and violent choking incidents suggests that many are left with ongoing health problems from “invisible injuries” to the brain.
But the effects of such injuries often go unrecognized by advocates, health care providers, law enforcement — even the victims themselves, researchers said.
“It’s a matter of making the connection,” said lead researcher Julianna Nemeth, an assistant professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State University. “Wherever they’re presenting, we should recognize that that person before us could very well have a brain injury. We should almost be assuming.”
In a community-based study conducted through Ohio domestic violence agencies, researchers from Ohio State and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network found that 81% of women who had been abused by their partners and sought help had suffered a head injury.
An even larger share — 83% — had been violently choked.
Yet those working to help them weren’t likely to consider that lasting harm could have been done. Head injuries and episodes of oxygen deprivation can cause various physical, cognitive and mood problems that might be mistakenly attributed to stress or mental illness.
“You can have ongoing effects for years,” Nemeth said.