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Domestic violence & brain injury

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Domestic violence & brain injury

Despite increasing publicity of domestic violence there is still little public awareness of just how often victims of domestic violence acquire a brain injury. Brain Injury Australia has written a separate policy paper on the high rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children - the leading cause of death and disability the result of physical abuse. 163 infant males (aged less than one year old) and 132 infant females were hospitalised due to assault in Australia during 2006-2007(1). Of the 261 children admitted to New South Wales' Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program during the same year, seven per cent had acquired their brain injury due to assaults resulting from domestic violence.


Historically many cultures accepted men 'disciplining' their wives. Although this was made illegal in most western countries in the 19th century, it was only in the 1990s that substantial effort was put into enforcing laws that aimed to prevent domestic violence. 


So what is violence against women? The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life".

According to White Ribbon, violence against women is violence directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects a woman, disproportionately. This may include assault, rape, harassment, murder, lesbian bashing, elder abuse, genital mutilation, enforced prostitution, enforced sterilisation, enforced abortion, killing of unwanted female babies, enforced motherhood and economic violence (2).

White Ribbon is a male-led movement to stop violence against women. They recently updated research conducted by Dr Michael Flood to reveal some truly shocking statistics.

  • Up to half of Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence by a man at some point in their lives (3).
  • One woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner (4).
  • Over one year, between five and ten per cent of Australian women experienced at least one incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a man (3).

References and further information

1 Australian hospital statistics 2006-07, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, 2008
3 The Australian component of the International Violence Against Women Survey, conducted by Australian Institute of Criminology (a national survey of 6,677 women in Australia aged 18-69)
4 Homicide in Australia: 2008-09 and 2009-10 National Homicide Monitoring Program annual report conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology (2013)


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