Extreme Control and Instability: Insight into Head Injury from Intimate Partner Violence

Amanda St Ivany, Susan Kools, Phyllis Sharps, Linda Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aim The aim of this study was to understand the social context of the lives of women who experienced a head injury from intimate partner violence. Background: Sixty percent to 92% of survivors of intimate partner violence receive head trauma during the abuse. Little research exists regarding the episodes of abuse when women receive a head injury, or the reasons women might not seek medical care for the head injury or the abuse. Method: Twenty-one interviews from nine women who self-reported passing out from being hit in the head were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings: Themes of extreme control and manipulation from abusers emerged, and women described living with instability from cycles of incarceration, drug and alcohol use, and fear of losing their children. Women did not receive medical care for head injury because the abusers often used forced sex immediately after the head injury to instill fear and authority. Implications for Forensic Nursing: Hitting women in the head is not only about physical abuse, but also about exerting dominance and creating an environment of extreme control. Forensic nurses are uniquely positioned to screen for head injuries during initial assessments and follow-up visits and connect women with appropriate resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of forensic nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Extreme control
  • forced sex
  • head injury
  • intimate partner violence
  • syndemics
  • women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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