Survivors of physically abusive relationships, where they have been punched or hit on the head, or slammed down stairs or against a wall, may find their traumatic injuries last much longer than the actual relationships, experts say. Brain trauma in domestic violence survivors has been overshadowed by concerns about injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and by effects of repeated head blows in football players. Experts believe that many cases go undetected and untreated in abused women, making them vulnerable to problems with thinking, mood and behavior.
Honestly, there’s so many holes in my memory, thinking problems. My memory is really gone.
Susan Contreras, Phoenix woman who survived an abusive relationship
Experts say the injuries leave some survivors so impaired that they can’t manage their jobs and lives. Some even end up homeless. Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of a brain injury program at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, has consulted on NFL injuries, as well as domestic violence survivors. He noted the case of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice’s 2014 attack on his then-fiancée. While much focus was on Rice’s behavior and possible links to his prior brain injuries on the field, most people overlooked a far more obvious injury Janay Rice.
When Janay Rice was knocked out cold in the elevator, attention was all about how Ray Rice had previous concussions. Nobody mentioned that the woman in the elevator suffered a brain injury right in front of everybody’s eyes.
Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of a brain injury program at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix