Domestic Violence Victims And Football Players Can Have The Same Brain Injuries

According to a recent study, domestic abuse victims and football players get the same brain injury — Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative disease of the brain that’s pretty fucking scary. It’s just another sad, terrible effect of being in an abusive relationship. According to the Associated Press, when examining women who have headaches and other possible neurological disorders, doctors are starting to ask if they have a history of abuse in order to properly diagnose them. It’s the same kinds of injuries they see in professional football players who get knocked around, knocked out, and have concussions during play.

Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of a brain injury program at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix pointed out to the AP, “When Janay Rice was knocked out cold in the elevator, attention was all about how Ray Rice had previous concussions. Nobody mentioned that the woman in the elevator suffered a brain injury right in front of everybody’s eyes.”

Gross, right? I mean, it’s not a groundbreaking idea, really. It makes total sense. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-quarter of U.S. women and 14 percent of men report being abused, and the most common injuries are to the head and neck. A report in the Family & Community Health journal says 60 percent of survivors end up with some traumatic brain injury.

CTE is no fucking joke either. Not only does it result in short term memory loss, loss of motor skills, and dementia in the worst cases, the more minor effects are just as troubling, including depression (which can lead to substance abuse), loss of focus and irritability, and just general difficulty controlling emotions all around. That fucks up your life big time — at work, at home, with your kids, and when meeting new people.

The discussion surrounding CTE in the athletic world is a whole different story. The NFL can take safety precautions to ensure certain kinds of concussions and injuries just don’t happen and rates of traumatic brain injuries and CTE can go down. NFL insiders and some neurological experts even go as far as to connect the rates of domestic violence among NFL players to the fact that the men have CTE and therefore can’t help themselves, which blames them giving others CTE on their CTE.

But we can’t just strap helmets on women or triple wrap them with bubble wrap before they go home to an abusive partner. The only bright side is that even if CTE isn’t curable, counseling and occupational therapies can help. If doctors are all on the same page and able to ask women about domestic violence in their lives when examining them, women can get help sooner than they have in the past.

Of course, that sucks as a solution. The real solution is for partners to not toss their “loved” ones around, strangle them, or knock them out and give them concussions. Football players get millions of dollars and make a choice to play a dangerous game. Women don’t have that luxury.