Retired NHL legend and YWCAs are calling for increased research and better treatment pathways for women suffering concussions from violence by an intimate partner
VANCOUVER, BC, May 16, 2023 /CNW/ – Sport has dominated the conversation around concussion for the past decade. But there’s a shocking statistic around the prevalence of concussion from domestic violence:
For every NHL concussion, it is estimated that more than 7,000 women in Canada suffer the same injury because of violence by an intimate partner, according to recent calculations by YWCA. Concussions are the leading cause of brain injury in Canada — and concussions sustained by intimate partner violence is a historically taboo topic that often goes unreported, underreported and untreated.
So, YWCA Metro Vancouver and former National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Trevor Linden have partnered on a new public service announcement, titled “Concussion Story”, to highlight the shocking rate of concussion from violence by an intimate partner. Their goal is to raise awareness about the issue in recognition of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week (May 14-20) and as the NHL Playoffs are underway.
“Having played a sport so closely connected to conversations regarding concussion, it was extremely eye-opening to learn the number of women that suffer the same injury from intimate partner violence,” says Trevor Linden. “NHL players have access to some of the best medical resources, but thousands of women may not have that same access. I’m honoured to stand alongside the YWCA to bring awareness to this issue and spark real, lasting and meaningful change.”
Concussion awareness has led to incredible changes in sports, from added equipment and funding, to updated policies and rules of the game. But it’s time to expand the spotlight and drive real change for the 290,000 women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada experiencing concussions due to intimate partner violence each year.
“Working to eliminate intimate partner violence should be a public health priority,” says Shaoli Choudhury, Transition Housing Manager at YWCA Metro Vancouver. “Brain injury in particular can have devastating long-term effects on a person’s life, from chronic pain and fatigue to finding and maintaining employment.”
The YWCA is not alone in its mission to raise awareness on intimate partner violence and concussion.
In November 2022, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer released a report on gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that the pandemic “increased the risk, and likely also the prevalence and severity, of gender-based violence in BC, while reducing access to related support services.”
As the BC government prepares to release its action plan to address gender-based violence, the YWCA and its partners hope to see robust investments in services to support survivors, including those who have experienced traumatic brain injury.
“Women tell us that they feel alone, isolated and are experiencing extreme levels of stress, anxiety and shame,” says Measha Gallagher, community program worker with the Cridge Centre for the Family’s Brain Injury Services. “The more our communities are talking about the impacts of brain injury from intimate partner violence, the more women will learn they are not alone.”
“Sports concussions still dominate the news headlines, but most physical abuse involves blows to the head, face, neck and strangulation,” says Dr. Paul van Donkelaar, Co-Founder and Principal Investigator with the SOAR BC project, a multi-disciplinary, research program that explores the incidence and effects of brain injury in women survivors of intimate partner violence. “It’s surprising how little attention is still paid to survivors.”
“We know so much more now about the long-term consequences of concussions, especially in professional and amateur sports,” says Ninu Kang, Executive Director of Ending Violence Association of BC. “But brain injuries have long been a dire consequence of intimate partner violence, and part of the continuum of violence abusers use to maintain control over a partner, sometimes without leaving a visible trace. This campaign makes it clear that we must recognize and address the impacts of violence and ensure survivors get the timely and appropriate help they need.”
The YWCA and its partners are calling on Canadians to help raise awareness about intimate partner violence that hundreds of thousands of women, girls and gender diverse people are experiencing every day. A media kit is available at myconcussionstory.com to share this story on social media to help spotlight this issue.
Members of the public can also consider donating to YWCA Metro Vancouver, or their local YWCA, to support transitional housing for women and other services to support survivors of intimate partner violence.
If you or someone you know is suffering from intimate partner violence and/or in danger, please call 911. There is support for people who are experiencing violence. People can call or text this 24/7 toll-free number at 1-800-563-0808 to get the help they need.
About YWCA Metro Vancouver
YWCA Metro Vancouver advances gender equity alongside women, families, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people through advocacy and integrated services that help support personal, collective and economic wellbeing.
About YWCA Housing
YWCA housing communities provide safe and affordable homes for single women and their dependent children. Residents have access to other YWCA programs and services, and a foundation to move toward health, well-being and economic stability.
About YWCA Canada
YWCA Canada is a leading voice for women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people. For 150 years, the organization has been at the forefront of a movement to fight gender-based violence, build affordable housing and advocate for workplace equity. YWCA Canada works to advance gender equity by responding to urgent needs in communities, through national advocacy and the grassroots initiatives of its Member Association YWCAs across the country. These local YWCAs invest over $258 million annually to support over 330,000 individuals nationwide.
In April 2023, YWCA internally calculated that for every one NHL concussion (based on multiple studies between 1997 and 2022), that more than 7,000 women in Canada suffer the same injury because of violence by an intimate partner. The calculation has been externally verified with a third-party subject matter expert, Karen Mason, from the SOAR (Supporting Survivors of Abuse and Brain Injury through Research) project, a multi-disciplinary, program of research that explores the incidence and effects of brain injury in women survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). The calculation referenced data from the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (2017), Statistics Canada (2022), the Family and Community Health journal (2011), and the Canadian Medical Association Journal (1997-2004).
This campaign was funded in part by Justice Canada in recognition of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week.
SOURCE YWCA Canada
For further information: Media contact: Chenda McKissick, Public Relations Manager, Rethink, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org