Women who are victims of domestic violence tend to have different facial injuries than those injured in accidents, according to a new study. The findings could help doctors to identify victims and refer them to safety programs.
An estimated 25 to 33 percent of women in the U.S. are the victim of physical violence – by a spouse or significant other. While most victims seek medical attention, not all of them are ready to admit the abuse or reach out for help.
For the study, researchers analyzed medical and dental records of more than 300 women who were treated for facial trauma at the University Of Kentucky Medical Center over a six-year period.
Of the 45 patients who were assault victims, 18 were documented victims of partner violence and 24 could not or did not identify their abuser. Other common causes of injury included car accidents, falls and unknown or undocumented causes.
Overall, assault was associated with complex cheekbone fractures, jaw fractures, cracks or breaks in bones surrounding the eyes (eye socket) and brain injuries.
Domestic Violence Statistics
Women are four times more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence.
One in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime - often, by a member of her family.
An estimated 2 to 4 million women in America are assaulted by a domestic partner each year. Twelve million women (25 percent of the female population) will be abused in their lifetime.
Often times, no one outside the relationship is aware that domestic violence is happening. And if there are physical injuries, the abuser may have ensured they are in an area that is usually covered by clothing.
“The purpose of the study was to make doctors aware of what to look for, particularly in women who return with multiple injuries,” said Dr. Oneida Arosarena, of Temple University School of Medicine, who led the research.
She said it is not always possible to pinpoint abuse by finding out how the injury occurred. Many women still feel there is a social stigma to reporting domestic abuse and as such report their injuries as due to a “fall.”
The study should help doctors and staff to identify domestic abuse as a possibility when coming across these types of injuries, said Barrie Evans, President of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).
For any patient that sustains an injury as the result of an assault, most important, is for the doctor to collect sufficient history of the circumstances surrounding the altercation.
The study, Maxillofacial Injuries and Violence against Women, is published in the January/February issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery. #