This toolkit is meant for educational purposes only. The information within it should not be used to diagnose or treat brain injury in your clients.

Photo: Service Provision Overview

Service Provision Overview

The impact of brain injury on a survivor of IPV

Brain injury can affect a person in many ways. It can impact a survivor’s behaviours and actions, and how they come across to others. Brain injury affects a survivor’s mental health, their ability to think, sense, communicate, and to function physically. And while no two brain injuries are exactly alike, and several factors work together to influence a survivor’s experience after injury, there is some consistency in how a traumatic brain injury manifests, in terms of symptoms and impairments. As such, key steps can be taken to accommodate the needs of women survivors of IPV with known or suspected TBI.

The short- and long-term effects of TBI can be grouped into the following categories:

  • THINKING – memory, reasoning, decision-making, planning

  • PHYSICAL – vision, balance, other body injury, disability

  • COMMUNICATION – expressing and understanding messages

  • FEELING – depression, anxiety, aggression

  • IDENTITY/SENSE OF SELF – personality, social roles, parenting/mothering


Impairment in any one of these areas can make it more difficult for a woman to leave her abusive partner, recognize that she needs help, or seek support. These impairments can also affect her success navigating the programs and services where she receives care.

It is important to be aware that the short and long-term effects of brain injury can change the way a survivor acts, thinks, and feels, to avoid misinterpreting her behaviour. It may seem as though survivors are being deliberately difficult, not listening, or not following instruction. However, these behaviours can be the after-effects of one or multiple injuries to the brain and are not intentional.