Women and children who have sustained brain injuries the result of Domestic and Family Violence are an emerging cohort in urgent need of service responses. In 2017, Brain Injury Australia was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to lead Australia’s first research into family violence and brain injury. Its report – launched by 2015’s Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty in front of 250 people at Melbourne Town Hall – found 2 in every 5 of the 16,000 victims of family violence attending Victorian hospitals over a decade had sustained a brain injury; nearly 1 in every 3 of the victims of family violence were children. And, of those children, 1 in every 4 had sustained a brain injury.

The research was completed by a consortium led by Brain Injury Australia – comprising Monash University, Domestic Violence Victoria, No to Violence and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare – in implementation of Recommendation 171 of the Victorian Royal Commission Into Family Violence; “The Victorian Government fund research into the prevalence of acquired brain injury among family violence victims and perpetrators.”

“As alarming as a rate of 40 per cent is, as dramatic a finding as this was,” says Nick Rushworth, Conference Chair, Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia and Consortium Lead on the research, “hospitalisations for brain injuries the result of family violence are bound to be just the proverbial tip of an iceberg.” A 2016 survey of over 100 clients of five domestic violence shelters in the United States found 9 in every 10 reported a head injury with loss of consciousness from domestic and family violence. And, of those, again 9 in every 10 reported “too many head injuries to quantify”. Yet, only 1 in every 5 ever sought medical attention.

The key learning outcomes of the Workshop will include: 

  • enabling attendees to identify, assess and respond to potential Domestic and Family Violence-related Traumatic Brain Injury – the result of external force applied to the head –  and hypoxic-anoxic brain injury the result of deprivation of the supply of oxygen due to strangulation;
  • an understanding traumatic stress and core principles of trauma-informed approaches to supporting victim-survivors of Domestic and Family Violence;
  • recognition of the various ways brain injuries can impact overall health and well-being of domestic violence survivors; and
  • an understanding of the ways a brain injury can contribute to challenges accessing, interacting with and utilising services responding to Domestic and Family Violence.


Dr. Eve Valera is Director of the Valera Lab, an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a Research Scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. For the last 25 years she has pioneered the study of Domestic and Family Violence and Acquired Brain Injury in women, receiving the prestigious Robert D. Voogt Founders Award from the North American Brain Injury Society in recognition of her work. Dr. Valera was the first researcher to use neuroimaging to investigate the effects of Domestic and Family Violence on women’s neural connectivity and cognitive function. She has authored over 50 publications and is a reviewer for more than 60 journals and travels the world training stakeholders – shelter workers, clinicians, law enforcement, judicial officers etc. – and raising awareness of this global epidemic.

Dr. Julienne Long has worked for the Prosecutor’s Office in Columbus City, Ohio for the past 9 years and in the field of victimisation for over 20 years. She currently holds a supervisory role at the Prosecutor’s Office in the Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit and is a consult on the Blueprint for Safety Initiative, addressing the justice system’s response to Domestic and Family Violence protocols and procedures. She interned with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network in their policy division and is a consultant to Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, with a focus on brain injury from Domestic and Family Violence. She holds a doctorate in Forensic Psychology from Walden University, and frequently trains justice system personnel about the dynamics and dangers of interpersonal violence. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor to the criminology and psychology departments of Chicago School of Psychology, Grand Canyon University and Purdue University Global.


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