The “One Punch Kills” campaign in Australia has been successful in some respect to address violence amongst men on men. What has not been addressed is just one aggressive act of violence can leave a brain injury resulting from domestic violence.
They say one in three women in Australia are hospitalised each week and diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury due to Domestic Violence. Yet the numbers are actually higher. I have met plenty of women and children who are diagnosed with a brain injury after leaving a violent relationship. They are not part of these statistics.
There is no real detailed research into Traumatic Brain Injury resulting from domestic violence. My own Traumatic Brain Injury was a result of Family Violence. I hid the diagnosis for five years because the stigma of such an injury.
Why? Well from other survivors of Domestic Violence, I learnt early on from their experiences that even discussing a brain injury resulting from domestic violence was frowned upon, and literally taboo.
Here as some of the survivors stories:
- Human Services suggests that such an injury could have an effect on being “capable mother” children were put into state care for three years. (2012)
- Victoria Police told one survivor that maybe “she asked for it” and that a man only gets that angry “when provoked”. The assault was investigated, (no medical records accessed) and no charges laid. (2014) She was unable to get Victims of Crime Compensation, because in Victoria if the person is not charged with an offence, you are cross examined by them at the Tribunal. She refused to be retraumatised by his abuse.
- Centrelink informed one mother that even though she had a Brain Injury (and that qualified her fro a disability pension) the injury was a result from her own behaviour. It took 18 months, three reviews at Centrelink, and then VCAT to be given a disability pension. (2015). Apparently if you acquire a traumatic brain injury from a car accident, this is deemed acceptable by Centrelink.
- Regional Hospital in Victoria informed a survivor that her blurred vision and headaches was probably from stress and refused to arrange a full diagnosis. Three weeks later after colapsing at home, she was flown to the Alfred Hospital and now has a plate in her head.
- Local doctors when presenting with symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury, informing survivors that there is up to a 6 month waiting list on Medicare to have testing done. (Yet if you have a slight accident and are hospitalised and complain about headaches and blurred vision you automatically are tested.) One survivor died from a blood clot 6 weeks after assault. (2014).
- Another survivor is still waiting to be tested. She spends most of her time with headaches, slight vomiting, ringing in ears, dizziness. It has been 16 weeks and she is still on waiting list for tests. (2015)
- One survivor was misdiagnosed with mental illness until she was tested for another issue that resulted in confirmation she had a Traumatic Brain Injury. Now with the correct diagnosis and care plan in place she has regained her life somewhat. (2014).
So how many other survivors of domestic violence out there that have a Traumatic Brain Injury undiagnosed or untreated?
Its just not one punch that can kill.
One push (survivor had head slammed up against brick wall)
One instrument (survivor hit with cricket bat to head)
One moment (survivor fell down stairs trying to escape violence)
One fall (survivor protecting child from violence picked up child attempted to run fell on concrete path slammed head into garden bed edging lost hearing to left ear as well)
Traumatic Brain Injury and domestic violence are interlinked, both by stigma and misunderstanding.