Victimization of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury or Other Disabilities: A Fact Sheet for Friends and Family

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Victimization of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury or Other Disabilities: A Fact Sheet for Friends and Family

What is victimization?

Victimization is harm caused on purpose. It is not an “accident” and can happen anywhere. While anyone can be victimized, people with disabilities are at greater risk for victimization than people without disabilities. This fact sheet provides a general overview of victimization and the risks to people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other disabilities.

What does victimization include?

  • Physical violence with or without a weapon
  • Sexual violence of any kind including rape
  • Emotional abuse, including verbal attacks or being humiliated
  • Neglect of personal needs for daily life, including medical care or equipment

How often does victimization occur?

  • In the United States, people with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be victimized than people without them.
  • Children with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be victimized as children without them.

What is known about victimization?

  • The two most common places for victimization are hospitals and at home.
  • Victims usually know the person who harms them. They can be health care workers, intimate partners, or family members. More men than women cause harm to people with disabilities.

Why are people with a TBI at risk for victimization?

  • A TBI may cause problems that can increase risk. Known problems include:
  • Difficulty understanding risky situations or avoiding risky persons
  • Difficulty controlling one’s temper which causes others to get angry
  • Behavioral problems, such as drinking too much

What can be done to help a friend or family member who is victimized?

  • Don’t be afraid to voice your concern for their safety
  • Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation
  • Be supportive
  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance
  • Help them plan safety steps so that they will know what to do and how to reduce their risk of harm when they are being victimized
  • Remember that you cannot “rescue” them

Getting help:

  • Dial 911 if you need immediate assistance.
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-SAFE or TTY 1-800-787-3224

This hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Confidential services include crisis intervention, safety planning, and referrals to local service providers. Assistance is available in English and Spanish, and in other languages.

More information:

CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

This site provides an overview and fact sheet regarding intimate partner violence.

This site includes a list of organizations working to prevent victimization.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

This site provides a wide range of information and links to many prevention and support groups.

Posted on BrainLine March 17, 2010.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Comments (8)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I need help. My doctor just fired me and I don't know what I did. I don't know how to talk to drs as they talk to fast and calling is worse because I can not get what I need to say out in the right way. My wife takes care of everything so I don't forget. But they call and yell and tell me what I didn't do. Now my main Dr just fired me. I know I ‘m not the easier patient because I can not communicate or remember but how is this okay. They say stuff to me and I am embarrassed that I don't remember what they said or what they are talking about.

I was hurt by someone I trust. They took personal property and breach of peace and broke law of my private personal documents . I have tbi and constantly being put thru wrongful actions that cause worsing depression and worsing health issues. I’m not to be under stress and it’s hard trust a lot people. Your feelings get hurt and you feel like burden . People who cause such pain or no better than a Bully and should be forced with law penalties for their wrongful hurt to tbi and other helpless ones who face difficulties. People can’t see how someone is with tbi unless you have tbi you not know challenges that go thru. Mental abuse is as bad or not worse as physical abuse. People should be accountable for their tort and other wrongful hurtful actions.

I assure you this happened: I suffered a moderate to severe TBI when at age 7 in 1959 I barely survived a bombing. I have been too disabled to work since I was 19. In 2006 my attempt to receive an upgrade from SSI to a share of my late father's SS check was sabotaged by the worker in charge of medical records for my neurologist, who withheld all of my medical records from the SSA. I did not learn of this until the hearing of my appeal. I was too sick to try to find a lawyer. Further, the administrative law judge in such hearings has the right to lie to claimants, telling them that they can never reapproach that case. This is technically true and the SSA supports the alj's statement with letters sent before and after the hearing. What the claimant is not told is that he has four years in which to file a second case. If he does not know this and if he has a moral structure it will not occur to him that he could be being lied to. The four year window will eventually close and the claimant will be cheated. This was done to me. I have lost approximately $150,000 and I can never file another claim. The woman in my doctor's office was motivated by spite, the SSA by the cold evil which moves bureaucrats to crush people who are already victims in order to satisfy their supervisors.

The system is broken. The only ones who can fix it are disabled or made more disabled because of the laws in place that abjectly protect those whose salaries we are paying.

I have been victimized by the NJ workman's compensation system that allows insurance companies to even ignore a judge's orders and pay certain known doctors to lie about your condition and refuse to have visits recorded. I was fortunate my attorney since 2003 retired and his partner settled the case last week after 15.5 years for 31% partial permanent disability. Then he told me I should apply for ss disability.

Sadly, I would still be working at a high level if I had been provided the treatment their treating doctors recommended. I had to use my own insurance to get needed surgery to keep working. I was finally forced to retire due to health issues cause by lack of minor ADA accommodations and harassment. I am still waiting for the comp. carriers insurance to authorize the treatment ordered by the judge 2 months ago to hopefully correct/restore my vision. I was a respected educator and now I sit home depressed and anxious because I miss working and never wanted to retire. My brain compensated until it just shut down and in all likelihood unable to work again. I believe all of this could have been prevented had I been provided the medical care that all but 2 insurance company "prostitutes" out of at least 10 specialists identified as an injury and/or proper treatment.

Part of my settlement includes paying a treating psychologist's bill from 2011. This was their doctor, who was helping me to access accommodations and then abruptly discontinued treatment after several years of treatment.

After almost 3 years working with a union hired ADA specialist to resolve my issues failed I was advised to retire and take them to court. You have to be able to "risk" at least 40K to sue your employer for ADA harassment and discrimination.

The worst part of all of this is becoming completely disabled and victimized despite having union and legal support. And I am probably luckier than most.

I am very sorry to hear this. But try to sue that person who caused your loss.

This is a very important subject especially as it pertains to TBI. I have a daughter who has been recovering from a TBI and was victimized. I had absolutely no clue that this was happening. I misunderstood a lot of what was going on. I thought it was all about the effects of her TBI. She was afraid of the person involved and unsure of how to get out of the relationship safely and not telling us anything about it. She was not able to make the best choices due to her TBI. What kills me is that I had no idea. Also that the other person involved crushed my daughter as a person on top of her TBI. This person knew that she was in dire straights with her TBI and needed all the love and positive attention and help we could provide to her. He on the other hand did everything to make her feel less than human and worthless. I cannot believe this goes on and I cannot believe this happened to us. I would highly recommend that you learn the signs of abuse and the patterns of these abusers just in case a child or loved one feels they cannot tell you, you will at least hopefully see it and make the necessary changes to help your loved one and keep them safe.

Same thing happened to me… I was searching to word my situation correctly because us living with TBI have a tendency to seem scattered especially on high stress and it seems to worsen when we try expressing ourselves especially being victimized on top of wondering how to deal with everyone and everything around us. Trying to rebuild after getting out and seek help and treatment while receiving none or seemingly crazy because of the trauma before during and after the incident.

Does being being put in jail and charged with assault by the assaulter count . I thought I was doing good to every work again after a wreak almost 8 years ago . The hospital thought I would never be able to walk function or live alone again . Then I get assaulted 28 staples in my head later after I have lost my job , lost my truck and most of the self respect I had gained . I get picked up on a warrant for misdemeanor assault . Which has started a whole new tail spin and I\'m still waiting for to face my accuser . Who has been jailed since on unrelated aggravated assault and kidnapping charges . Just asking