By Daneka Hill and Tim Shepherd.
Almost half of hospitalised domestic violence victims suffer from brain injuries, a recent study has found.
A Monash University report examined hospitalisations over a 10 year period finding 40 per cent suffered some form of brain injury–however, researchers say the figures do not account for women who do not seek medical treatment after an attack.
Domestic Violence Victoria CEO Fiona McCormack says they were “blown away” by the data.
“We are very grateful for the Royal Commission for the recommendation that further research was required in this area because the results have certainly been quite surprising,” says Ms McCormack.
The report also highlighted trends in domestic violence for indigenous women.
“The other important factor is this research is focussed on the family violence cases that reach hospitals and we know that aboriginal women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-aboriginal women.”
Ms McCormack says this report demonstrates domestic violence does not only affect a victim for the duration of the relationship.
“I think that we can think of family violence being experienced for the period that the woman is in the relationship, but the reality is that this can mean long-term disability for her.”
Many domestic violence services are struggling to cope with the number of cases and Ms McCormack says the report should make governments act.
“This needs to be a big wake up call to governments across Australia about the need to take this issue more seriously…we need to be giving this much greater priority, it’s preventable and the impacts we can see are absolutely devastating.”
Women’s Legal Service Queensland provides free legal advice to more than 11,000 Queensland women per year and CEO Angela Lynch says more could be done by the government.
“It is a discussion point whether there is more that could be done, I’m certainly sure that there could be,” says Ms Lynch.
She says many women also suffer from mental illness as result of domestic violence.
“Certainly women that come to our service do report issues in relation to or do report that they have a disability, often that is mental health and psychiatric as a result often from the domestic violence.”
If you suffer from domestic violence or this story has caused you to feel unsafe, you can call 1800 RESPECT anytime.