Unless you’re a scientist, therapist, someone caring for a brain injured person or a victim who sustained a head injury, the brain is not something that most of us think about. The average citizen surely does not pause to think about just how fragile the most complex part of the human body, the brain, really is. The nearly three-pound organ, stored neatly inside of it’s bony shell, holds thousands of our secrets and most precious and darkest memories, controls our stop and go behavior buttons, acts as the starter kit for our movements, and plays the role of interpreter to our senses and dreams. Now that information is becoming readily available, more people are at least starting to talk about Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.
So, what exactly is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)? TBI is an acquired injury to the brain that’s caused by external physical force. It’s not something a person is born with. Sometimes it occurs during a car accident, after a fall from a bicycle, following an explosion, after a gunshot wound to the head, after being held hostage, etc.
Unfortunately, it’s sometimes caused at the hands of or by an intimate partner. The area above the neck is one of the most common targets of intimate partner assaults. In fact, studies on the incidence of TBI in domestic violence (DV), conducted in 1999 (Monohan and O’Leary), revealed greater than 90% of all injuries secondary to domestic violence occur to the head, neck or face region. In another study involving three domestic violence shelters, according to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (NYS OPDV):
- 92% of the victims had been hit in the head by their partners, most more than once.
- 83% had been both hit in the head and severely shaken.
TBI is not always visible, but it may cause enduring physical, emotional, intellectual, and other changes for those surviving the injuries. There are studies that indicate long-term effects of TBI place an enormous emotional and financial burden on the individual’s family and strains medical and other service systems due to the high costs and often life-long needs. But the fact remains: The horrors and tragedies that one relives due to a TBI at the hands of an intimate or any partner are unimaginable.