Jul 03, 2019 08:42 AM EDT
Researchers from Ohio State University and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network conducted the first community-based survey of its kind. It included 49 survivors from Ohio and 62 staff and administrators from five agencies in the state and discovered that 81 percent of women who have been abused at the hands of their partners and seek help had suffered a head injury and 83 percent have been strangled.
The study suggests that the blows to the head caused brain injury and by oxygen deprivation are likely ongoing health issues for many domestic violence survivors. The author of the study which appears in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma said that due to poor recognition of these lasting harms, some interactions between advocates and women suffering from the effects of these unidentified injuries were likely misguided.
Assistance professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State, Julianna Nemeth, the lead researchers, said that one in three women in the United States had experienced intimate partner violence. What the researchers discovered leads them to believe that many people are walking around with undiagnosed brain injury, and they have to address that.
Nemeth explained that nobody knows what this combination of injuries could mean for these women. When the researchers examined their data, it was a shocking moment. They have the information they need now to make sure that people recognize this situation as the primary concern in caring for survivors.
Close to half of the participants in the study indicated that they had been hit in the head or had their head shoved into another object, "too many times to remember." Women that were choked or strangled "a few times" were more than half, and one in five said that happened "too many times to remember."
Throughout Ohio, the reports from women in domestic violence programs already have prompted changes to how the statewide advocacy group and the programs it works with are helping the survivors they serve. They have created a model called "CARE" for "Connect, Acknowledge, Respond, and Evaluate."
Also, the researchers authored another study that they recently published in the Journal of Family Violence, and it documents the challenges that agency employees face when dealing with the complex mental health needs of survivors. Cecilia Mengo, the author of the study and the Ohio State Assistant Professor of Social Work, calls for care models tailored to survivors who have a mental health disability.
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