Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Supporting Survivors in Shelters (2018)

Sexual-Violence-COVID-19-thumbnail.pngThis infographic shows how women who face IPV are at increased risk for violence, which can lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI). It shares how TBI affects women and how survivors of IPV experiencing TBI may be supported.

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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Supporting Survivors in Shelters

1 in 2 Women who live with an abusive partner may be subject to frequent unreported and untreated physical violence involving the head.1

Such violence may lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI).


  • Memory Problems
  • Physical symptoms (nausea, dizziness, pain, ringing in ears, vision problems, headaches)
  • Mood changes (anger, depression)
  • Difficulty sleeping

Women are more likely to seek shelter than medical attention after a violent incident due to safety concerns2 Shelter teams understand that women who have experienced intimate partner violence related traumatic brain injury may have trouble:

  • Assessing danger
  • Making decisions related to safety
  • Remembering and getting to appointments
  • Learning new information
  • Managing substance use
  • Adapting to living in a shelter Repeated TBIs may lead to longer recovery times and have more serious consequences


  • Allowing time for rest in a quiet dark place
  • Keeping meetings brief and to a minimum
  • Encouraging her to seek medical attention
  • Providing travel assistance to attend appointments outside of the shelter
  • Offering to accompany her to appointments
  • Reviewing safety plans often and in detail
  • Providing notebooks, calendars, agendas to support her efforts to be organized
  • Being realistic about her abilities and limitations. Everything may take longer and she may be easily frustrated. 
  • Seeking support from local brain injury association

In Ontario call: 1-800-263-5404 ·

[1] Campbell, J.C., Anderson, J.C., McFadgion, A., Gill, J., Zink, E., Patch, M., Callwood, G., Campbell, D. (2018). The effects of intimate partner violence and probable traumatic brain injury on central nervous system symptoms. Journal of Women’s Health, 27 (6)

[2] St. Ivany, A., Bullock, L., Schminkey, D., Wells, K., Sharps, P., Kools, S. (2018). Living in fear and prioritizing safety: Exploring women’s lives after traumatic brain injury from intimate partner violence. Qualitative Health Research, 28 (11) 1708-1718.

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