Research indicates that the number of women who have experienced Traumatic Brain Injury secondary to domestic violence is 11 to 12 times greater than experienced by military personnel and athletes combined.
A new statewide initiative aims to help connect domestic-violence survivors with medical providers, with a focus on treating traumatic brain injury.
Rachel Ramirez, founder the Ohio Domestic Violence Network's Center on Partner-Inflicted Brain Injury, said survivors often experience severe violence aimed directly at the head, neck and face. But there's been a longstanding gap in accessing the right medical services when individuals come into shelters.
She said a portion of the initiative's more than $6-million dollars in funding will be used to pay for treatment.
"To pay for health care that people are not able to get reimbursed through other means, through Medicaid or insurance. We want to investigate the possibilities of working with occupational therapy to help with brain-injury rehabilitation," Ramirez said.
The three-year project in collaboration with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers will cover four to six areas of the state. According to data from the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the state suffered 112 domestic violence-related fatalities between June 2021 and June 2022. More than twenty of those killed were children.
Ramirez said advocates are also working on developing a statewide virtual and call-in center known as the Care Health Connection.
"That will be a place where domestic-violence programs and survivors can also talk to an advocate when they have health-related needs to help them get better connected to either telehealth services, behavioral-health services or other health services in their community," she said.
Emily Kulow, director of mobile advocacy and meaningful access at the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, said the goal is to eliminate barriers that prevent survivors from seeking help, and then providing a holistic approach once a connection has been made.
"So checking in with the survivor about what's going on with their housing, what's going on with their health care. When was the last time they were even seen by a doctor," she said.
According to the National Center for Health Research, women who experience domestic abuse are more likely to suffer from diabetes, asthma, lower back pain, headaches and other chronic conditions.