Living in Fear and Prioritizing Safety: Exploring Women’s Lives After Traumatic Brain Injury From Intimate Partner Violence

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There is increasing evidence that women are receiving a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during episodes of intimate partner violence (IPV), but little qualitative research exists around how surviving this experience impacts the lives of women. Primary and secondary data (N = 19) were used with a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore the lives of women aged 18 to 44 years, who were living with a TBI from IPV. Women described multiple aspects of living in fear that shaped their daily lives and ability to seek help and access resources. The central process of prioritizing safety emerged, with salient dimensions of maintaining a present orientation, exhibiting hyperprotection of children, invoking isolation as protection, and calculating risk of death. These findings add to the growing body of knowledge that women living with IPV are at high risk for receiving a TBI and are therefore a subgroup in need of more prevention and treatment resources.

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