On 19th November, The Disabilities Trust are hosting an expert roundtable, following our recent findings of the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI), domestic abuse and female offending, with the aim of ensuring all women with TBI are better supported.

After a two-year study at HMP/YOI Drake Hall, the first study of its kind, we shared our findings in February this year in the report Making the Link: Female Offending and Brain Injury. The report highlighted that nearly two-thirds (64%) of the women may also be suffering from undiagnosed brain injuries. Of women who reported a brain injury which was traumatic in nature, 62% had sustained their injury through domestic violence.

From these findings, an additional analysis examined the link between brain injury and domestic abuse, to develop an understanding of the specific needs of these women. Key findings include:

  • 61% of those with a brain injury caused by domestic violence reported having self-harmed, compared to women who reported other causes of brain injury (29%)
  • Violence was the most frequent cause of brain injury – 72%
  • Of those with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), 40% had a mental health diagnosis, and women with a brain injury were seven times more likely to have a mental health diagnosis than those without
  • 35% of those with a brain injury had not sought treatment for their injury

The findings illustrate the complex experience and vulnerability of women who have faced the trauma of both brain injury and domestic abuse. Alongside other frequently reported factors, such as substance misuse and unstable housing, the need to support women holistically, not just within the Criminal Justice System, is fundamental to improving these women’s lives.

Additionally, in the recently published annual report, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence and Abuse, recommended that all frontline healthcare staff are trained in understanding violence against women and girls. They also recommended advanced training for professionals who are in frequent contact with survivors, and that domestic abuse and sexual violence are secured as a strategic priority across the health and social care sector.

Our roundtable aims to use our findings to open a conversation with the Government and wider sector; brain injury and its impact should be part of the discussion around the identification of support needs for women who have experienced domestic abuse. The event today will enable experts from the domestic abuse and women’s sectors to come together to create a collaborative plan to ensure women with TBI who experience domestic abuse are better supported. We hope to gain support as they call for further research to examine the prevalence of brain injury within the wider domestic abuse survivor population, and for the Government to ensure the needs of women with brain injury are met within the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Irene Sobawale, CEO of The Disabilities Trust, said: “The briefing we are publishing today further evidences the distressing and traumatic lives of women who have experienced both domestic abuse and brain injury and their increased vulnerability. By publishing these findings and hosting an expert roundtable, we hope to explore ways in which we can work together to better support these women and encourage change at the highest level.

Briefing front cover 3.PNG

Briefing: The Impact of Brain Injury and Domestic Abuse - A Further Analysis

Click here for the full briefing
Making the Link cover.JPG

Making the Link: Female Offending and Brain Injury

Click here for a further look at our initial report