The New Yorker reports that medical professionals often fail to diagnose traumatic brain
injury (TBI) in victims of domestic abuse. Per this news analysis, when
emergency room personnel examine women following an attack, they usually
don’t order CT scans or MRIs. A diagnosis of TBI frequently indicates
that the victims of abuse are likely to become victims of homicide later.
Without the TBI diagnosis, in other words, abuse victims go home from
the hospital unprotected, unaware, and perhaps in imminent danger.
Strangulation Attempts Cause TBI
Approximately half of women victims of domestic abuse have suffered strangulation
attempts. Such incidents can cause mild to moderate brain injuries from
the cutting off of the oxygen supply. The lack of diagnoses revolves around
the fact that most injuries from strangulation are internal rather than
external. Only a small percentage show wounds visible enough to photograph,
and law enforcement often characterizes the injuries in reports as minor
abrasions to the neck. In addition, since victims tend to have poor recall
of strangulation, authorities often downplay the harm, which results in
prosecution of the abusers on less serious charges.
People Who Work With Abuse Victims Need Training Regarding Strangulation Signs
Since strangulations dramatically increase the risk of homicide, anyone
working with domestic abuse victims, including police officers, attorneys
and shelter workers, should receive training in how to recognize it and
the TBI it causes. In addition to acquiring evidence from brain scans,
personnel should watch for symptoms such as memory problems, hearing loss,
dizziness, headaches and anxiety. The training should also involve how
to conduct an investigation and how to keep a victim safe. Increased prosecution
of perpetrators of strangulation will lead to a decreased number of homicides
among domestic abuse victims.The National Center for Violence Against Women provides information in how to deal with strangulation cases.
Doctors are critically important in the system of identifying domestic
abuse victims. SeeStudy Highlights the Role of Physicians in Diagnosing Domestic Violence for more information.
Concussions can be confusing and scary, particularly if there’s a
debate over who’s liable. Contact our
D.C. brain injury attorneys for a free consultation about your options.