Senators Ernst and Cortez Masto Introduces Amendment to Study the Connection between Domestic Violence and Traumatic Brain Injuries

U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Defense and Health and Human Services “minibus III” funding bill to require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on federal efforts to study the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries among victims of domestic violence.

“This amendment is part of my ongoing efforts to combat domestic violence,” Ernst said. “The more information available to the public the better, and this amendment provides us with the opportunity to open new avenues for research and increase public awareness of domestic violence and traumatic brain injury.”

“Research has shown that the traumatic brain injuries experienced by professional athletes and soldiers have devastating, long-term effects on brain health and overall well-being,” said Cortez Masto. “We owe it to the survivors of domestic violence to research the effects and develop treatment methods for abuse related head injuries with the same urgency and resources. These victims should not have to suffer in silence. I have spent my career fighting to protect and support victims of domestic violence. This amendment is the next step in guaranteeing that survivors get the support they need to recover.”

In May of this year, National Public Radio (NPR) published a report which examined the evidence of links between intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injuries. Some estimates suggest that 20 million victims of domestic violence each year could suffer traumatic head injuries. Some researchers suggest these injuries may be comparable to pro athletes who receive numerous, sustained blows to the head. However, there are few studies on the strength of the relationship or the total number of people impacted by this issue.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Study Amendment would specifically require the GAO to report on federal efforts to study the impact of traumatic brain injuries among victims of domestic violence, as well as issue recommendations on how to improve education of the public and provide better treatment for survivors.

This amendment is supported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (NCDVTMH), and the Nevada Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NCEDSV).