For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, our Director of Communications and the Foundation, Vivienne Francis has written a blog on the power of research, innovation and collaboration to provide new ways to improve support:

"October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a good reminder not just of how many people are experiencing abuse globally, but of the power of research, innovation and collaboration to provide new ways to improve support- particularly the need to pursue even the grain of an idea.

The next wave of the work we are developing in The Disabilities Trust's policy, research and innovation hub, The Foundation, should support practitioners to better spot the signs of a brain injury - which can be the hidden legacy of domestic abuse - in survivors.

We first spotted the link between brain injury and domestic abuse by ‘fortuitous accident’. A study into brain injury in female offenders at HMP/YOI Drake Hall, in 2016-2018, revealed the unexpected fact that many women, 62 out of 100, had sustained their often life-changing injury through domestic abuse.

Although this wasn’t the original line of inquiry, we started to investigate the links between abuse, brain injury and health outcomes further, setting up with a round table, bringing together academics, the NHS and colleagues in the domestic abuse sector - who welcomed this fresh lens on the experiences of thousands of people worldwide. The resulting report, ‘Brain Injury and Domestic Abuse: An Invisible Impact’, published in 2020, enabled us to leverage influence with policy makers and we were delighted to see some of our recommendations make clear changes in national practice and

statutory guidance, with the introduction of questions related to brain injury within health screen for men and women entering prison.

Our latest report, ‘Brain Injury and Domestic Abuse: A Practitioner’s Perception’, published this year and based on a study carried out with domestic abuse charity SafeLives, showed the gap in understanding of frontline staff in the field - with nearly two thirds saying they felt mostly unprepared to spot the signs of a brain injury.

We are now co-designing the next stage of the research to identify what interventions would make the most difference to supporting people with a brain injury resulting from abuse with survivors - listening to their experiences is proving invaluable to the innovation process - and colleagues in the domestic abuse space. None of this would have been possible if we hadn’t followed that initial thread.

Anyone interested in working with us on this should get in touch."