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Can facial injuries tell about abuse?

By January 21, 2009 - 12:52am
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 4.8 million women and 2.9 million men are victims of violence by a partner each year in the United States.

A new study published by the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery (a JAMA Journal)in the Jan/Feb issue, shows that certain facial injuries sustained during domestic abuse situations are more identifiable over most bruises, cuts, and breaks received from a crime in which they didn’t know the assailant; for example in a robbery or car accident. http://archfaci.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/11/1/48?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=domestic+abuse&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=date&resourcetype=HWCIT

Other studies say that not enough doctors are going out of their way to suggest treatment or help to patients they suspect are being abused. No matter how far-fetched an emergency room excuse may be for physically abused women who present with facial injuries, it is probably a cry for help when they can’t or won’t tell the truth about their injuries.

Do you know anyone whose facial injuries may be suspect of abuse by a husband, boyfriend, or someone else in the family?

Add a Comment3 Comments

Anon, one thing that you can do is make notations in your calendar when you notice bruises or wounds that seem to be constant. I saw a true story on Oprah once where a coworker, suspecting the worst about her cubicle-mate's seemingly constant "accidental" injuries, just started noting them in her calendar.

We might think it's none of our business, but what ultimately happened in this case was that the violence escalated and the injured woman took her cubicle mate into her confidence. Ultimately, it was the woman's notes on her calendar that turned out to be the most important evidence in court, because it was an objective record -- just notes and dates from a third party witness, no "he-said, she-said" about them.

I do think hospitals are especially on the lookout for child abuse, especially in children too young to speak for themselves. Like Susan says, there may not be much they can do for an adult who insists that an injury happened accidentally.

January 23, 2009 - 9:36am
HERWriter Guide

I'm not sure what to tell you, anon, about stepping in. It's a really tricky situation, particularly when there is no evidence of abuse. A bruise is not evidence of abuse. My advice would be to be there for her if she ever needs to talk, and to let her know in subtle ways, that you are there for her even beforehand.

I currently have a bruised forehead (I knocked myself in the head with a door so hard yesterday that I feared I loosened one of my teeth) and my 2 year old has an injured eye from falling down the stairs on her way down while carrying toys - something we have told her not to do. So if anyone took a look at us, they might definitely get the wrong idea.

All of my children (and all being of toddler age) have had plenty of marks on their knees, even their faces. You can't have a bunch of toddlers and not have the occasional banged up body! Same goes for someone who plays baseball or another contact sport.

I don't know of anyone suffering domestic abuse (that I actually know of, because much of it is hidden for many reasons from shame to fear) but I do hope doctors are doing their best to recognize signs of abuse in their offices or ERs. Sometimes there isn't a whole lot they can do, if the person insists it was an accident.

Domestic violence is very prevalent in our society. I have included a link to where anyone can find help throughout all 50 states.


January 21, 2009 - 1:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

I know a co-worker that has frequently shown up for work with suspicious marks on her face. One time she told me she was playing softball and got hit by the ball...I am not sure if I believe her story. What can I do to get involved and help but still respect her privacy? I do not know her boyfriend at all, but she talks about him.

January 21, 2009 - 12:41pm
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