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Research finds nearly 80% of domestic violence victims experience brain injury

Research to discover how brain injuries affect survivors of domestic violence is ongoing.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Leaders with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network and Ohio State University are working together to research the long-term effects of domestic violence on survivors who experience brain and head injuries.

In 2016, ODVN received a grant allowing them to do research on the topic, partnering with Dr. Julianna Nemeth, Assistant Professor of Public Health at Ohio State University.

Nemeth has found those who experience violence that leaves them with brain injuries have a higher chance of experiencing anxiety, depression, headaches, vision problems and seizures among other issues. Those victims also have a higher chance of using alcohol, tobacco products and opioids at a younger age.

Rachel Ramirez, founder and director of the Center on Partner-Inflicted Brain Injury, said since beginning the research, more survivors have come forward with struggles they face such as holding a job or being sensitive to loud noises.

“I just thought I was stupid. I used to be able to hold a job and now it’s really, really hard for me to hold a job,” Ramirez said survivors would tell her. “We know the dynamics of domestic violence. There is a lot of emotional abuse and belittling, name calling.”

Ramirez said that makes it more likely for survivors to dismiss any differences they notice in their behavior or habits.

The data both women have collected shows eight out of 10 people who experience domestic violence have had a head injury. Of all those who have experienced head injuries from violence, half experience repeated head injuries.

Both women are now also working with partners throughout the state to discuss the best resources which can help survivors of violence through brain injuries, especially long-term.

“We don’t have the system in place to help victims of domestic violence access the services that they need [in relation to brain injuries]. Our clinical protocols are setup to address brain injuries from sports. They’re setup to address brain injuries from war trauma, but we don’t have protocols in place to address brain injuries from violence,” Nemeth said.

Research to discover how brain injuries affect this population is ongoing. You can visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Network website to seek helpful resources and services or find more information about domestic violence.

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