Brain Injury During Violence Against Women

 

When a woman is beaten by her partner, these beatings often result in brain injuries. When a woman is attacked in the workplace by a co-worker, supervisor or her patient, this type of violence can also cause a brain injury.

Violence against women can take many forms and women can be hurt by difference kinds of perpetrators, and yet IPV-related TBI has rarely been studied.

Meet three women who are changing the world with their research.

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Spotlight on Dr. Eve Valera

 Dr. Eve Valera is using advanced imaging scans like DTI to test for the presence of "abuse-related brain injuries" in women who have been in a physically abusive relationship. 

Using brief neuropsychological tests and diagnostic assessment, she is also examining the relationships between brain injuries and cognitive/psychological functioning in these women. 

This research could have serious implications for legal, social and educational interventions available to women in such physically abusive situations. 

Research from Dr. Valera's lab showed that of a sample of 99 women who experienced IPV:

  • 75% sustained at least one TBI caused by violence from a partner
  • 50% sustained multiple TBI caused by violence from a partner

Additionally, she found brain injury severity was negatively related to memory, learning and cognitive flexibility.  This work confirmed the critical need for additional research in this area.

In her current work, she is using a range of methodologies including neuroimaging, neuropsychological assessment, and interviews to characterize women's partner-related TBI history and its relationship to neural, cognitive, and psychological functioning. 

 Helping the Hidden Victims of Traumatic Brain InjuryHelping the Hidden Victims of Traumatic Brain Injur

An Overlooked Epidemic: Brain Injuries In Women Survivors Of IPV

Intimate-partner violence (IPV) is a critical public health concern, impacting approximately a third of women over the age of 15 worldwide.

And as many as 75 percent of sampled women who have experienced intimate-partner violence have suffered multiple partner-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

This can have serious negative consequences—among them, deficits in memory, learning and cognitive flexibility—that can impair a woman’s daily functioning.

Unfortunately, these TBIs too often go unrecognized by the women themselves and by their caregivers.

Eve Valera, director of the Cerebellar Psychiatric Research Laboratory wants to increase awareness of and knowledge about TBIs related to intimate-partner violence, and thus help provide appropriate care and treatment and ultimately improve outcomes. read more

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Helping the Hidden Female Victims of Traumatic Brain Injury

What comes to mind when you think of someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury TBI?

  • An athlete who plays a contact sport such as football or hockey, perhaps?
  • Someone who has served in the military?
  • The victim of a car accident?

While it’s certainly true that these are likely candidates for TBIs, one Massachusetts General Hospital researcher has identified an often-overlooked segment of the population that frequently suffers repeated TBIs — women who have experienced intimate partner violence IPV (or what used to be called "domestic violence").

Eve Valera, PhD, an investigator at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, along with Aaron Kucyi, PhD, now at Stanford University, recently completed the first study to use neuroimaging to examine the effect of TBIs on the brains of women who have been in abusive relationships. read more