While the abhorrent rates of family violence are now well known in the community, the high prevalence of brain injury among family violence victim/survivors and perpetrators remains a hidden side effect that even health and family violence practitioners fail to notice.
We have been a consortium member of Brain Injury Australia’s study into the association of family violence and brain injury, along with Domestic Violence Victoria, The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and Monash University.
Speaking at the International Domestic Violence and Health Conference 2018, our Policy and Research Officer, Matt Addison presented on the findings and recommendations of Australia’s first evidenced-based research into the relationship between acquired brain injury and family violence. Despite the wealth of global family violence knowledge held in the room, attendees were staggered to learn that:
- 40% of Victorians attending hospital for reasons of family violence had sustained a brain injury
- 31% of victims of family violence attending hospital were children under the age of 15
- Across Australia, 3 women are hospitalised every week from an assault to the head.
These sobering statistics formed part of a larger picture that showed massive gaps in health and family violence services to adequately diagnose and assess brain injury before it had further impacted victim/survivors of family violence.
Matt highlighted that even a basic understanding of this issue can have remarkable effects on treatment options for family violence victim/survivors and perpetrators: “family violence practitioners are telling me first hand that after reading this report, they now pick up on brain injury in their clients all the time.”