Fact Sheet: Acquired Brain Injury and Family Violence

  • “Although little research has been conducted, there is evidence that a significant number of women incur brain injuries from abusive partners.”


Rosanna Robertson’s Remarkable Recovery From Being Shot in the Head by her Boyfriend – Ray Martin’s “Dark Secrets” Airs Sunday 28 May, 2017, 8.30pm

Rosanna Robertson and Ray Martin

Rosanna Robertson and Ray Martin

In 2007, leaving a pub after an argument, Rosanna Robertson’s then boyfriend pulled a gun and shot her point blank in the back of the head. After a week in an induced coma, three months in hospital, and six months of rehabilitation in the Brain Injury Unit at Royal Rehab Rosanna’s made a remarkable recovery. She shares her story with Ray Martin, pictured, on “Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame” which airs this Sunday 28th May at 8.30pm, on the PRIME7 network in regional Australia.

“And it’s been media attention like this that’s helped make the Australian community aware that as many as a two women are killed each week the result of family violence,” says Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia.

“What’s less well-known is that three women are hospitalised each week with a traumatic brain injury due to an assault by a partner or ex-partner”.

Brain Injury Australia is proud to have a played a small part in the production of “Dark Secrets” by introducing Ray and his producers to Rosanna, and her story.

Take a look at “Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame”:

Nick Rushworth’s interview with PRIME7 here.

National Brain Injury Awareness Week 2015

Brain Injury Australia set the theme of the 2015 National Brain Awareness Week: “Women, Family Violence and Acquired Brain Injury.”

  • “Every week in Australia, one woman is killed as the result of family violence. Every week in Australia, 3 women are hospitalised with a brain injury as a result of family violence.”


Media Coverage on ABC TV of National Brain Injury Awareness Week 2015

The theme of the 2015 National Brain Awareness Week – Women, Family Violence and Acquired Brain Injury – attracted significant media coverage on ABC TV’s “7.30 Report”, including a report by Tracy Bowden in August, 2015:

and a follow-up report by Tracy Bowden in November, 2015:

“The rates of brain injury due to assault among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are around 70 times that of other women,” he says. “In some communities, this kind of violence is just rife, it’s rampant.”Dr. Richard Parkinson, St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney

Djinders: Vision Statement & Scoping Paper (2016)

  • In response to ABC TV’s coverage of National Brain Injury Awareness Week in 2015, Djinders, “a group of Aboriginal Women from the Far North Coast, passionate about creating change in our Communities,” convened the NSW Aboriginal Women’s Summit – Women Against Violence – Healing our Country.

    The Vision & Scoping Paper outlines Djinder’s campaign on domestic violence against Aboriginal women, and its impact on families, children, and the community.


Royal Commission into Family Violence: Summary and Recommendations (2016)

Brain Injury Australia is seeking research collaborators to conduct research on the “prevalence of acquired brain injury among family violence victims and perpetrators”, for the purpose of presenting funding proposals to the “the Victorian Government and other funders”.

Please contact BIA for more information.

This call is in response to Recommendation 171 of the Victorian Royal Commission Into Family Violence.

  • Recommendation 171 advises that the “Victorian Government fund research into the prevalence of acquired brain injury among family violence victims and perpetrators [within two years].”


Fact Sheet

  • Hospitalised Assault Injuries Among Women and Girls (2017) – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

    6,300 women and girls were hospitalised due to assault in Australia between 2013-2014, with the violence committed by a partner or spouse in 60 per cent of cases, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In 59 per cent of cases, the “head and neck” was the body region most often injured in hospitalised cases of assault of women and girls. This was also true when the perpetrator was a spouse or domestic partner, in 61 per cent of cases.


Research on Brain Injury and Family Violence

  • Prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury in Intimate Partner Violence Offenders Compared to the General Population: A Meta-Analysis (2012)

    “The prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among perpetrators of Intimate partner violence (IPV) appears significantly higher than the prevalence of TBI in the general population. To the extent that this association is causal, TBI may be a risk factor for interpersonal violence, although comparatively few source studies, lack of standardized information about TBI severity, and the inability to investigate potential confounding variables necessarily limit this conclusion.”


  • Hospitalisation for Head Injury Due to Assault Among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians (2005)

    “Indigenous people, particularly women, were disproportionately represented among those hospitalised for head injury due to assault. Head injury imposes a substantial burden of care on individuals and communities. Along with the costs of treating head injury, these are good reasons to strengthen efforts to prevent head injury generally, with special attention to high-risk population segments.”


Inquest into the Deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016)

Wendy Murphy (died 2014) and Natalie McCormack (died 2015), both residents of Alice Springs, were Aboriginal women who died of brain injury as a result of domestic violence from their respective partners.

“Domestic violence is a contagion.

In the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory it is literally out of control. As a Local Court Judge I witness it most days. As the Coroner I see the terrible lives these women endure and their horrifying deaths.

To cast light on the true horror I determined to hold an inquest into two such deaths.”Judge Greg Cavanagh

Download the Inquest Report.

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