Domestic violence: Study reveals the most common types of injuries

Hyperaxion Aug 14, 2020

Boston hospital’s physicians noted a higher incidence and severity of domestic violence during the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed several problems in our society. Among them, violence against women. A new study by the Radiological Society of North America, in the United States, found a higher incidence and severity of physical intimate partner violence (IPV) in the country during the pandemic, compared to the prior three years.

Domestic violence: Study reveals the most common types of injuries in the US
(Credit: Tumisu / Pixabay).

“Our study showed a higher incidence of physical IPV, both in absolute numbers and proportion, with more severe injuries despite fewer patients reporting IPV,” said principal investigator Bharti Khurana.

According to her, this indicates that the victims are reporting to health care facilities after a long time after the beginning of the cycle of violence. “Fear of contracting infection and closure of ambulatory sites might be preventing victims of mild physical or emotional abuse from seeking help,” Khurana said.

The research, recently published in the scientific journal Radiology, evaluated the incidence, pattern and severity of injuries caused by attacks during the pandemic in patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

CT image of a 38-year-old female victim hit in the face and chest by her boyfriend
CT image of a 38-year-old female victim hit in the face and chest by her boyfriend. (Credit: Radiological Society of North America).

The scientists analyzed demographic data and clinical manifestations of injuries in women who reported experiencing physical abuse from their partners between March 11 and May 3, 2020. The cases were compared with those analyzed in the same period in the previous three years.

The total number of injuries to deep internal organs was 28 in 2020 compared to 16 from 2017 to 2019. The number of deep injuries per victim was 1.1 in 2020 compared to 0.4 from 2017 to 2019.

The incidence of high-risk abuse, such as strangulation, stab wounds, burns or the use of weapons such as knives and guns, was twice as high in 2020.

Another finding is that patients who suffered violence were more likely to be ethnically white. Seventeen (65%) victims in 2020 are white, compared to 11 (26%) in previous years.

“During the pandemic, victims experienced more injuries to the chest and abdomen compared to prior years,” said Babina Gosangi, co-author of the study.

“For instance, one victim sustained multiple bilateral rib fractures with right pneumothorax and bilateral lung contusions–requiring hospital admission for more than 10 days–after she was repeatedly punched in the chest. Another victim was stabbed in the abdomen and had lacerations to the liver and kidney,” Gosangi added.

Images of a 35-year-old female victim who was strangled and hit in the face several times by her boyfriend.
Images of a 35-year-old female victim who was strangled and hit in the face several times by her boyfriend. (Credit: Radiological Society of North America).

According to the researchers, there is under-reporting of domestic violence, caused by fear of leaving home. Khurana says radiologists should use their knowledge to identify these women from the injuries they have suffered.

“IPV-related injuries may be getting overlooked or misinterpreted, as our frontline physicians are overwhelmed by a vast number of COVID-19 patients in the Emergency Department,” Khurana concluded.

Related topics:

Domestic violence

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