A Survey of Women With Broken Bones Shows the Prevalence of Domestic Abuse

One in three women has been the victim of domestic abuse.

West Midlands Police

A new international study has found that, of women who went in to a fracture clinic for a broken bone, roughly 1 in 50 were there because they were a direct victim of domestic abuse. Their broken bone was a direct consequence of intimate partner violence. On top of the one in 50 whose injuries were the result of abuse, one in six women surveyed at the clinics said that they had been abused in the past year, and one in three had been abused in their lifetime.

Those staggering statistics come from a survey that asked 2,344 women at 12 different fracture clinics in the U.S., the Netherlands, Denmark, India and Canada about their history of abuse.

Domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, is the “leading cause of non-fatal injury to women worldwide,” say the scientists in their study. Partner abuse can present in a lot of different ways: physical and sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, and emotional or psychological abuse. The CDC says that in America 29 percent of women and 10 percent of men have suffered from abuse. The new report focuses on physical and sexual abuse and seems to double-down on that statistic, showing at least how bad domestic abuse can get. The CBC:

“Neck and head injuries are the most common for women who have experienced domestic violence, he said. Also common are “bruising or broken jaws, teeth being knocked out, black eyes.”

Victims of violence also have dislocated elbows, wrists and shoulders, or twisted or broken ankles, he said.

“It’s horrible,” said Mohit Bhandari, one of the leaders of the study, to the CBC.

For women suffering from domestic abuse, it can be hard to get away. Financial dependency, unhealthy ideas of relationships or just plain fear can make some victims unwilling to speak out. Doctors are theoretically in a prime position to help women speak up. Unfortunately, the new survey says that of the 49 women who were at the fracture clinics specifically because of abuse, only seven had ever been asked about abuse by a health-care worker.

“By the time a woman receives broken bones, she’s at sharp risk of being killed by her partner. That’s why orthopedic surgeons need to get better at noticing the signs” said the CBC.

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