Sojourner Center Spearheading Maricopa County Collaborative on Concussions in Domestic Violence

Posted By on November 26, 2019

Estimates suggest that about 90% of intimate partner violence victims have suffered at least one concussion in domestic violence incidents, but no exact figures relating to the frequency or characteristics of head injuries within this unique population exist.

Sojourner Center, which a safe haven for women and children affected by domestic violence, is looking to change this and has joined forces with the Maricopa County Collaboration on Concussion in Domestic Violence and other local partners to do so.

The effort, known as Sojourner MC3DV and made possible through a grant from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation, unites the CACTIS Foundation, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Family Violence Bureau, the Mesa and Tempe police departments, HonorHealth’s Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital to address this largely unrecognized societal epidemic.

“Victims of domestic violence are at increased risk for head injuries and concussions because of blows directed to the head, neck and face,” said Sojourner Center Executive Director Carrie Borgen. “The Sojourner Center champions increased awareness through education and evidence-based methods to address this issue, with the objective of providing improved management and a successful return to society for these individuals.”

In addition to addressing the frequency and impact of concussions and TBIs among this population, the effort seeks to create a standard of documenting associated symptoms so that advocates, social workers and others can develop unique treatment approaches that differ from those used for athletes and soldiers.

The Sojourner MC3DV program builds on the success of a similar Maricopa County Attorney’s Office program that focused on strangulation among victims of domestic violence and seeks to increase victims’ awareness and acceptance of support.

Hirsch Handmaker, M.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CACTIS Foundation

“The incidence of TBIs in victims of domestic violence could potentially result in 20 million women exhibiting signs and symptoms of TBI each year — a number that is 12 times greater than any published incidence of TBI in the general population,” said Hirsch Handmaker, M.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CACTIS Foundation. “Additionally, it is estimated that in 50 percent of households where domestic violence occurs, a child is also at risk for TBI. The Sojourner MC3DV Program will bring to light this rarely reported public health epidemic and guide evidenced-based ‘best practices’ by producing effective, quantifiable outcomes.”

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