Excerpt of an Article by Melissa Jeltsen | Huffington Post
Thirty years ago, Kerri Walker, found herself driving into oncoming traffic. “It felt totally normal,” she said, recalling how she was oblivious to the danger. Walker escaped an accident that day, but looking back now, it was the first clue she had a brain injury.
At the time, Walker was in the throes of an abusive relationship. She estimated that over a 2 1/2-year period, she was hit in the head around 15 times — once with a gun — and violently shaken.
“I had major headaches, and every now and then I would have these moments when I would get dizzy and disoriented,” Walker said. But she didn’t connect her symptoms to the assaults until a year later, when a doctor at Geauga Medical Center in Ohio diagnosed her with traumatic brain injury, or TBI. “When you are in a relationship with that much trauma and violence, you don’t know what’s physical or what’s emotional or mental,” she said.
The Sojourner Center, along with TBI experts at local hospitals and medical institutions, is launching an ambitious program dedicated to the study of TBI in women and children living with domestic violence.
The first question they hope to answer is what percentage of domestic violence survivors are suffering from TBI caused by domestic violence. According to a rough calculation by Hirsch Handmaker, a radiologist working with Sojourner and CEO of a nonprofit raising awareness of concussions, as many as 20 million women each year could have TBI caused by domestic violence.
Compare that with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate that 1.7 million people experience TBI every year, and 2 percent of the population, or 5.3 million Americans, are living with a disability caused by it.
Kim Gandy, president of the National Network To End Domestic Violence, said TBI may play a role in some women being unable to leave an abusive relationship.
Four months after Walker left her abusive partner, she said, a brain aneurysm ruptured, requiring surgery. Since then, she’s spent years learning how to live with — and accept — the effects of cumulative brain injuries.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline
To read the complete article by Melissa Jeltsen, click here.
Thanks to Melissa Jeltsen for writing the article; The Huffington Post for committing its resources to publishing the article; the many people who contributed to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.