Epilepsy Talk

Domestic Violence — When Love Goes Wrong | May 16, 2017

Carol found herself in a cycle of violence from the time she was a child. By adulthood, she had already experienced multiple beatings and hospitalizations.

In the most recent attack, her husband beat her with a board, leaving her with permanent brain damage and a life-long disability.

As a result of her injury, she now has frequent seizures, difficulty with balance, and is terrified to leave her home for fear of having a seizure or falling.

Domestic violence does not just leave deep psychological scars on its victims — it also leaves physical ones — often in the form of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Despite this, we fail to recognize the effects a brain injury may have on a victim of domestic violence.

Short term memory loss, mood swings, seizures, these are just a few examples of the legacy that TBI leaves behind.

Both brain injury and domestic violence are recognized public health problems in the United States. The estimated annual costs of TBI is 48.3 billion and between 5 and 10 billion US dollars for domestic violence.

Up to 35% of women’s visits to an emergency department are related to injury from ongoing abuse.

Typically, injuries resulting from domestic violence include fractures, eye and ear injuries, lacerations, and brain injuries. Furthermore, brain injuries occur in up to 36% of domestic abuse related injuries.

Sexual assault and domestic violence staff identify 35% of female victims as potentially brain injured.

These findings suggest that 18% of domestic violence victims who come to the emergency for their injuries, have residual symptoms as a result of a brain injury and as many as 67% suffer with one or more elements of Post Concussive Syndrome.

Children are also victims of domestic violence and are often left with life-long disabilities due to TBI.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a form of TBI, is the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the US.

At least one out of four babies who are violently shaken die from the trauma.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the parent or guardian is most often the abuser (54% of SBS cases were committed by parents or guardians from 2003-2007).

Between 2004 and 2008, 98 children were hospitalized for injuries related to SBS and 84% were under the age of one year.

In approximately 34% of these cases, the father was the abuser.

Megan’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and when she was only six months old, he beat her head into a wall.

It was a miracle she even survived the beating, however, it left her disabled for life.

As a result of the beating, Megan is blind and has a severe seizure disorder.

She also has significant behavioral issues and difficulty modulating her mood, resulting in violent mood swings.

Though she is now in her forties, she will never be able to live on her own and is at the mercy of her community to take care of her.

She lives in an assisted living facility with a mostly elderly population.

“My book, ‘No Longer My Constant Bedfellow: Free From the Grip of Domestic Violence,’ recounts my survival from intimate partner abuse as well as a strangulation and suffocation that my first husband perpetrated upon me when I attempted to leave him back in 1985.

(This is believed to have resulted in my experiencing petit mal and grand mal seizures today; many years after my abuser’s own death.)

I now wish to empower, educate, and advocate for others. I want to be a torch and a light. God bless.” — Deborah A. Tremblay

“I was forced to live with an invader for so long it was starting to wear on me,” says Demitryce Zapata in her book, ‘Darkness: My Struggle with Epilepsy and Domestic Abuse’. 

I was stressed all of the time and had literally no social life. Everything I did, I was basically was doing from home.

I felt like I would suffocate and was trapped in someone else’s body. Why, I thought? Why did this have to happen to me?

My marriage had fallen apart and I couldn’t be as independent as I used to be. I felt like hope didn’t exist for me.

But I wasn’t going to let it defeat me. I wanted to do what I could, whatever I could to get well, and care for my family and complete all of my goals.

Darkness to me is my struggle and pain in my life and how I plan to get out of it.

The struggle with epilepsy and domestic abuse does not define me or who’s going through it.

It only makes us stronger and want to change what is.”  


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  1. I think it’s the person doing the violence that is the one who is mentally ill. You have to be if you injure someone that is in most cases physically weaker than you. What kind of sadistic pleasure could come of something like that?

    Or could it be that woman just nag their husbands to the point of no return, that moment of losing it?

    Good thing for anger management programs!!



    Comment by Zolt — May 16, 2017 @ 11:34 PM

    • Yup, good thing for management anger programs.

      But I think that part of the problem is that these women find themselves in an endless cycle where they think it’s their fault…they make excuses for the aggressor, who promises it will never happen again…and they stay.

      All resolve goes out the window and they’re afraid.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 17, 2017 @ 8:03 AM

    • ‘Or could it be that woman just nag their husbands to the point of no return, that moment of losing it?’

      you know what – for years I thought thats why I was hit, raped, chemically abused, financially abused – you also know what – Just because someone asks you more than once to do something – DOES NOT GIVE ANYONE THE RIGHT TO RAPE OR ABUSE THEM.

      Also – I use the word someone because pigeon holing ‘woman’ is down right disrespectful to both victims/survivors who are male and female alike.


      Comment by . — May 22, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

  2. Reblogged this on catsissie.


    Comment by catsissie — May 16, 2017 @ 11:48 PM

  3. my mom has no pients, for people with a disabilty cause I have epilepsy and she let me know it.


    Comment by Michele Metzger — May 17, 2017 @ 11:33 AM

    • What do you mean Michele?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 17, 2017 @ 3:14 PM

      • I,ve had mental, phy. abuse by my mom. before they cleaned me out. and said I was over med. by 14 different pills.I was 27 before that is when my mom slap me acrossed the face because I going to give her a hug and said I was to old for that.


        Comment by Michele Metzger — May 18, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

  4. Oh Michele, how horrible. I’m so very sorry. Are there any Epilepsy Support Groups near you?

    Where do you live?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 18, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

    • In urbana ohio, I went to a epilesy group in springfield ohio, and I knew so much the just sat down and let me help the the new people came in.


      Comment by Michele Metzger — May 18, 2017 @ 11:14 AM

  5. thats why I,m here


    Comment by Michele Metzger — May 18, 2017 @ 11:59 AM

  6. Michele, do you have medical insurance? If so, do you have a regular doctor you see?


    Comment by Susan Hartmann — May 18, 2017 @ 3:02 PM

  7. Yes, Michele, you might think about asking your physician for a referral to a counselor or therapist. It’s very helpful to talk to others about our feelings.


    Comment by Susan Hartmann — May 19, 2017 @ 1:49 PM

    • It’s done a world of good for me.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 19, 2017 @ 2:22 PM

    • I been to 6 or 7 counselors and 2 therapist. I don,t to mom now because shes the reason why I been araid of people most of my life. I don,t feel bad because I felt like I never had one. Since I have epilepsy shes been my why or no why kind of person.


      Comment by Michele Metzger — May 19, 2017 @ 7:16 PM

  8. I found that in my own experience of having seizures and a history of anxiety/dom vio that getting a diagnosis is proving exceptionally hard. Despite abnormal brain waves they tend to go the panic attack route when that really is not the case.


    Comment by . — May 22, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

    • I agree with you.

      Especially since, an abnormal EEG does not diagnose epilepsy nor does a normal EEG reading exclude it.

      So the uncertainty lingers…and the fear.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 22, 2017 @ 3:34 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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