The Disabilities Trust continues to highlight the link between brain injuries and domestic abuse. Brain Injuries Awareness Month provides an opportunity for awareness raising and advocacy, and serves as a platform for those who suffer from the often hidden impacts of brain injury.

Brain injuries are often referred to as a ‘hidden disability’ as they can result in a range of cognitive, behavioural and emotional symptoms which aren’t immediately obvious and often go undiagnosed. Symptoms can include (but are not limited to) poor memory, lack of concentration, slowness to process information, emotional dysregulation, anxiety and depression and fatigue, all of which may hinder a survivor’s ability to engage with support services.

In 2019 The Disabilities Trust launched the results of a report, Making the Link: Female Offending and Brain injury, the first study of its kind into brain injury in female offenders. The research conducted at HMP/YOI Drake Hall, found that of 173 women who were screened using the Brain Injury Screening Index tool (BISI), 64% reported a history indicative of brain injury, and of those, almost all (96%) reported a history indicative of traumatic brain injury (TBI). From the women supported through the service, distressingly 62% reported they had sustained their brain injury through domestic violence.

Following these stark findings, The Disabilities Trust reanalysed all the data gathered at HMP/YOI Drake Hall comparing those who has sustained a brain injury due to domestic abuse with those sustained by other causes. Results showed those who had sustained their injury through domestic abuse had higher rates of self-harm (61%) and mental health problems (41%).

As a result of this The Disabilities Trust, in partnership with SafeLives, has recently undertaken a service level audit of acquired brain injury knowledge in those who support survivors of domestic abuse which we hope to publish this spring. This will help us better understand the current level of knowledge and experience of supporting survivors with a brain injury.

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