Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is frequently cited as an important health concern for women in the military. Intimate partner violence (IPV) also disproportionately impacts women in the military. However, the combined experience of TBI and IPV remains under-recognised, resulting in a lack of adequate systems for veterans experiencing IPV-related TBI and related health issues. Indeed, brain injury resulting from IPV is rarely caught or treated. The current barriers to diagnosis and treatment, coupled with the social stigma of openly admitting to having experienced IPV, has resulted in relatively little literature on the intersection of IPV and TBI in female veterans.
This study, conducted by the Polygeia New York branch (Jessica Neumaier, Adina Hill, Shriranjani Iyengar, Jenna Mohammed, Olivia Choi, Wallace Wong, Joseph Lee, Jessica Crespo, and Annika Dhingra) in association with PINK, aims to address this gap. Researchers examined the current literature on female veterans with IPV-related TBI.
The authors found that, across multiple studies, female veterans are at a high risk for experiencing IPV and IPV-related TBI. This is particularly concerning given that many cases of IPV and TBI go undetected as a result of overlap with symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. The study also highlights that lesbian, bisexual, or questioning women were at increased risk for IPV, identifying this group as a demographic that must be researched further.
Overall, this study highlights that IPV-related TBI in female veterans is a serious and undervalued issue. Further research is urgently needed to understand the burden and implications of IPV-related TBI in female veterans. Additionally, the authors emphasise that comprehensive understanding and awareness of IPV-related TBI should be key considerations for healthcare providers working with veterans and service members. IPV-TBI represents a serious and under-recognised issue for women in the military, and further work is greatly needed to understand the connections between IPV, TBI, and long-term outcomes.