Violence as a Cause and a Consequence of Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted by Annie Pixley on 31st Dec 2010

Violence as a Cause and a Consequence of Traumatic Brain Injury

By Annie Pixley


Graphic images of violence.

There is an overlap between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and violence which is an important yet little understood problem. The exact number of violence-related TBIs each year is not known, yet the CDC estimates 11% of TBI deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits combined are related to assaults. To further complicate the problem of TBI and violence is the fact that violence is not only a cause, but a consequence of TBI. In other words, cognitive and behavioral problems resulting from a traumatic brain injury can trigger aggressive behavior. This behavior can lead to violence. A lack of judgment and insight after TBI can result in vulnerability and victimization.

Violence as a Cause of TBI – Intimate Partner Violence

The term intimate partner violence is more commonly known as domestic violence, spouse abuse or woman abuse. After a relationship ends, people can be at risk for violence from former partners. There is no way to calculate the number of TBI cases associated with partner violence. Many victims do not report such violence to the authorities, their family or friends because they think no one will believe them, and that the police cannot help.

Violence as a Consequence of TBI – Victimization

Victimization can include physical and sexual violence, psychological or emotional abuse, stalking and neglect. A victim is defined as a target of emotional abuse, or someone who has been threatened with or actually physically and/or sexually abused. Persons with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence – 4 to 10 times more likely to become a victim of violence, abuse or neglect. Again, there is no way to calculate the number of persons with TBI in the U.S. who are victimized each year.

Reducing the Toll of Violence after TBI

Screening for possible TBI among persons who have experienced either intimate partner violence or victimization is key to ensuring that the people with TBI-related problems are diagnosed and receive necessary services.


Jean A. Langlois, ScD, MPH; Jeffrey Hall, PhD; Matt Breiding, PhD; Audrey A. Reichard, MPH, OTR;

Anne McDonnell, MPA, OTR/L; Marlena Wald, MLS, MPH.

This fact sheet is based on an article: Breaking the Silence: Violence as a Cause and a Consequence of Traumatic Brain Injury, Brain Injury/Professional, Vol.5 Issue 1 2008, pages 8-12. Brain Injury/Professional is the largest professional circulation publication on the subject of brain injury and is the official publication of the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS). Brain Injury/Professional is published jointly by NABIS and HDI Publishers. Members of NABIS receive a subscription as a benefit of NABIS. Visit to order the entire issue or to become a member.

Recommended Reading:

Undiagnosed Brain Injuries in Youths and Adults

By Michael Mozzoni, Ph.D. and Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

Describes signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury and concussion in youths and adults that are often missed or overlooked. Provides checklists for identifying physical, cognitive, behavioral and social changes that may indicate a possible undiagnosed brain injury or concussion

Brain Injury It is a Journey

By Flora Hammond, M.D. and Tami Guerrier, B.S., Editors

This brain injury book for families explains consequences of traumatic brain injury and gives strategies for coping with changes in the survivor’s physical abilities, memory, attention, thinking and emotions.