Epilepsy Talk

Domestic Violence — When Love Goes Wrong | November 10, 2019

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. Goodmorning Phylis 😊 here from the snowy province of ALBERTA, CANADA 😊. You never seize to amaze me!! This where I connected the dots for myself, my husband and children and THE PAST TRAUMAS OF MY PEOPLE TO NOW!!!!! Funny how people don’t think anything until they haven’t seen you out and about for a really long time and then everyone begins to question where have you been all this time?. It was more from a TBI I got after a fall down my cement stairs when I lost my brother!! However abuse comes in many shapes and forms from all facets of society. And it’s not always physical sometimes its even mental, emotional or spiritual and people don’t even realize it themselves. It’s not an easy topic to talk about, but it is something that we “as epileptics” SHOULD TALK ABOUT!! Because even we don’t realize the different forms of abuse bestowed upon us sometimes or until it’s too late!! And that isn’t just from family either that is the medical community and society in general due to ignorance. Now the “ILLEGAL DRUG EPIDEMIC” as well. But who would actually be willing to say or do something until we no longer can?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 11:25 AM

    • All types of abuse — sexual, physical, and emotional (including verbal abuse and witnessing domestic violence) raise the risk of depression, anxiety and epilepsy-like symptoms.

      Research featured in Harvard Mental Health Letter and published in The American Journal of Psychiatry looked at the damage that hostile words, and or yelling can have on a child.

      They found “words are weapons that can cause lasting wounds, especially when wielded by parents against children. The damage is sometimes more serious and lasting than injuries that result from beatings”, say Harvard researchers reporting on a survey of young adults.

      Basically, abuse releases a cascade of stress hormones which produces a lasting effect on brain signals.

      Experiments at McLean Hospital, for example, show that patients with a history of abuse are twice as likely to show abnormal electrical activity as non-abused people.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2019 @ 12:01 PM

      • I completely agree with you. It just makes me wonder if people realize the damages they incur on Thera on account of the abuse they received in the past (I.e. residential schools here in Canada and possibly elsewhere) and how to change for the positive and future generations that’s all.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 12:07 PM

  2. Education + Awareness = Attitude

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2019 @ 1:01 PM

  3. There’s not much I can add without this turning into a novel. We’ll just let it be said that my children and I suffered a lot of abuse from a partner who took advantage of my Focal Unaware Seizures at every chance. Then I would be gaslighted by him, “I’m crazy that never happened”.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Donna Jones — November 10, 2019 @ 4:23 PM

    • How horrible…for all of you. Along with abuse, he probably made you feel like you were going crazy. 😦


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2019 @ 6:50 PM

    • Lol by the way “NOVELS ARE NOT THAT BAD SOMETIMES 😘. As long as we all keep an open mind and keep learning 😘🙏🏼🦅💗😘


      Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 7:06 PM

  4. I am so sorry that had to happen to you Donna 💗. I’m not much into “NOVELS”, but I do greatly appreciate the lessons I learn through Phylis’s articles and this forum for freedom of speech. As hard as it maybe sometimes to read I find this very informative, I do though also try my best to think of the same issue in different ways as well because some may or may not bring it up themselves. I apologize if I offended anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 5:35 PM

    • Kathy, what you say cannot offend, as long as it is said with candor and compassion.

      I absolutely can’t imagine you hurting one single soul. Honest.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2019 @ 6:53 PM

      • Thank you Phylis 😘. I do though agree with the “gaslighting” to a point. It’s almost a form of deflection on our part sometimes until we catch it ourselves and work to change it for the betterment of ourselves and those we love and care for. But how is change truly created if we are not will to see things as they are and sometimes talk about hard stuff so we can all live content constructive helpful lives? Plus educate eachother instead of even “gaslighting” ourselves. Thank you for the eye opener I greatly appreciate all of you. 😊🙏🏼🦅💞


        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 7:03 PM

      • Gaslighting happens TO someone, not all by itself.

        By definition, “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

        11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2019 @ 7:10 PM

      • Thank you Phylis 😊💞

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 7:17 PM

      • I caught it because some people are not even aware that happened to them in the past (I.e. residential schools here in Canada) and that they themselves maybe still doing that or hindering positive change and acceptance for now and the future generations. As epileptics we simply become drained after a seizure which makes doing anything sometimes a chore in itself. Nevermind realizing that that may still be happening nowadays and then working to help other epileptics, families and professionals (epitologists, neurologists and medical personnel) catch it for themselves and become educated so its prevented in the future. There has to be some type of give and take in all sides. Just a thought. Thank you 😊💗

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 10, 2019 @ 7:40 PM

      • Well yes, you’re right. We DO want to help others who may be going through or affected by our previous or present suffering.

        Not an easy thing to do.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2019 @ 7:50 PM

  5. I tried to comment again on this E T and again NO COMMENT is listed from me as I should had been # 15 since 14 were listed but there looked to be only about 9 shown that I read. I have no idea as to WHY this is the way it is, & someone should be able to figure this out, unless they don’t care to do so. JAMES / CRAIG Davis


    Comment by jcdavis@hardynet.com — November 10, 2019 @ 9:09 PM

    • Goodmorning jcdavis 😊 the same thing happened to me at one point as well. What I ended up doing was DELETING THE SITE APP on my iPhone and then RE-INSTALLING IT AGAIN WITH A DIFFERENT PASSWORD. That seemed to work for me. However I only respond from the app and NOT THE EMAIL (even though I get the original daily write up in my email). I hope that’s of some assistance and helps you with your posting issues. And please have a very good day 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 9:20 AM

  6. I’m in the UK, we’ve just had a new law passed, b
    recognising the psychological form of domestic abuse, manipulation, isolation, controlling the money and more. My sister’s husband treated her like that, we could never see her alone and more, when I was the final family member left for 2years he attacked me with insults, made up stories about how bad our family is until I was kicked out, don’t know how she might have been affected, but for me it was like an injury, I had many odd things like almost losing sight but was finally diagnosed with pnes and functional neurological disorders. That form of abuse is just as dangerous

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Gail Barry — November 11, 2019 @ 7:27 AM

    • I suppose intervention wasn’t a possibility.

      And I can’t even in imagine how the loss of your sister wounded you. (I have no sibs.)

      How could the law have helped her? And you?

      I understand how the physical consequences were as painful as losing the one you love to abuse and lies.

      I’m so very sorry this happened to you, Gail. As well all of the victims of this kind of abuse.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 10:26 AM

  7. Most women who experience domestic violence do not go to the ER. Of those who do, over 90% say they have been hit so many times that they lost count. We need to start looking at solutions.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — November 11, 2019 @ 11:28 AM

    • And rape kits come with a liability all their own.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 11:31 AM

    • What if that’s all they know because that’s all they grew up with? Or what if it isn’t even rape? Like previously stated. Sometimes the abusers don’t realize their even abusing or being abused themselves. On the other hand maybe it’s simply not knowing who to really trust or possibly fear

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 11:42 AM

      • I agree. Many who are abused may think it’s THEIR fault and that’s a way of life.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 11:49 AM

      • Especially if they already have epilepsy or a possible mental health condition that hasn’t been properly diagnosed or noticed by the people or professionals who are supposed to be there for them. That’s why we’re here for eachother 😘🦅💝

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 11:57 AM

      • Clinical depression could do it…making the person who has low esteem a target for abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 1:49 PM

      • I agree. So how can that be changed? So there’s a stop to it? Lol sometimes it’s just the explanation itself that helps that’s all. Thank you

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 2:06 PM

  8. Goodmorning Gail 😊. I am so sorry to hear that happened with you and your family. The funny thing is sometimes in the process of trying to change for the better and not do what has been done to us (or our family members) is having to let go of what kept happening in the past. When even the people (or the medical professionals)before us don’t realize that maybe that’s still never really changed now. So in order to protect ourselves we walk away. The sad part is yes it hurts something awful I KNOW!! For me as an epileptic if I know something isn’t proper I will speak up and do something, but it’s not like it doesn’t come with the drawbacks as well. I’m my case I simply walked away and distanced myself from even family members who refuse to acknowledge the damage they created for me. I changed all my phone numbers and leaned on my friends when I have too. Until I catch my breath and take a brain break (lol or just be in peace) then I get back up and just concentrate on being alright. I completely agree with the negative effects of having to have gone through that, but the problem is my family refuses to acknowledge that and work on themselves then all of us as a whole. That’s where the doctors or professionals come in, but not all cultures know how or who to trust anymore because of what they endured in the past. Which leaves them to continue on with our children or the younger generations. We only learn what we live and none of us are perfect. We all have flaws and downfalls. Maybe acknowledging the doing something about that will help not only ourselves but those we love as well. Thank you and PLEASE TRY AND HAVE A GOOD DAY AND BE WELL!! 😊🙏🏼🦅💞

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 11:29 AM

    • But Kathy, sometimes you just can’t walk away.

      You’re a prisoner of the violence itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 11:41 AM

      • Yes your right Phylis. Maybe that’s the problem. Because as I stated before it’s embedded and that’s all some people know because nobody has ever shown or taught them different.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 11:45 AM

  9. Perhaps it may go as far as the abused think THEY ARE at fault.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 11:53 AM

  10. EXACTLY!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — November 11, 2019 @ 11:54 AM

  11. This article hits very close to home with me, and my ex-husband’s next ex-wife, and who knows, maybe the girlfriends between the marriages and after. He tried to strangle me, and that was the end of our life together. The girlfriends after were given warnings from me (they were his supervisors for child visits) that there was potential for violence, and after the relationships were over they apologized for not believing me. His next ex-wife still suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy and intracranial hypertension from his abuse.
    I am certainly glad I warned them because he was a charming, charismatic pathological liar and I didn’t want anyone else to suffer.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Marlyn — November 11, 2019 @ 8:30 PM

    • OMG. It must have been terrible for you to sit on the side-lines and see them suffer.

      I can’t even imagine how you felt…


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 11, 2019 @ 9:00 PM

      • But sadly I understood them because I was once under his spell. That night I mentioned, he was charged with assault, by the police. A few weeks before it went to court he approached me about dropping the charge so he would have a better chance at a good job so he could pay his child support. I spoke with the Crown Prosecutor, who bless him, said “Oh, hell no. We are proceeding.” He was convicted and fined but not jailed. It is on his permanent record.
        if I didn’t go through all this I would have never met the love of my life, and a real father to our kids. Here’s to 25 years!

        Liked by 3 people

        Comment by Marlyn — November 11, 2019 @ 9:49 PM

      • I guess that’s a win-win.

        At least his abuse was recognized, even if he wasn’t jailed.

        And you were free to find the love of your life.

        Congratulations on 25 years and a happy, stable family!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 12, 2019 @ 9:10 AM

  12. Hope someone sees this – today, November 25th, is International Day Against Domestic Violence. See https://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — November 25, 2019 @ 10:51 AM

    • I hope others can see this article, too.

      It’s both informative and a necessary piece on domestic violence.

      Thank you for your constant informative contributions.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 25, 2019 @ 11:07 AM

  13. Having a partner who knows that your seizures can wipe your memory for some time before and after your seizures can be hell or heaven. Please know the person before making any commitments.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Donna Jones — February 15, 2020 @ 1:30 PM

  14. I’m a domestic violence survivor. I am begining to share my story at nameredacted.blog Domestic violence isn’t simple and sometimes we can’t leave and sometimes we’re so confused and messed up by the “two sides” we see in a person it’s hard to leave one with out mourning the other. I was severly beaten several times, he was arrested three times for his assaults on me and then another two times for violating the restraining order and Stalking charges.
    Even when we leave we aren’t safe. It’s a horrible cycle but there is no way to truly fix the problem until we fix society and how we view domestic violence. As a victim so often we are blamed for not leaving soon enough, or going back, or “allowing the abuse” but the truth is we can’t be held responsible for the actions of others. No normal sane person would abuse someone else so it is 100% the fault of the abuser in these situations no matter how often the victim forgives or tries again. Forgiveness and second chances are seen as amiable traits in society and we learn from a young age to accept apologies and give multiple chances especialy as women.
    It all boils down to the public. If we blame domestic violence victims then we as a society are saying “well it’s their fault” we write it off as they somehow deserved it so it’s not our problem. When we start accepting DV victims as true victims then we as a society see them as someone we are “somewhat obligated” to help and protect. It’s not an individual problem but a community problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by [NAME REDACTED] — April 7, 2020 @ 5:59 PM

    • That’s quite poignant and true.

      Sadly the rates of domestic violence are going up with the coronavirus stay-at-home orders.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 7, 2020 @ 6:03 PM

      • I am sooooo thankful I ended things before this pandemic all started and he is finally locked up. I can’t imagine being locked in the same house with him and being even more isolated, or even the stalking and terrorizing that would have gone on if he were out and knew where to find me at all times.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by [NAME REDACTED] — April 7, 2020 @ 6:09 PM

      • I’m so pleased and relieved for you. It could have been a nightmare even worse than the one you were living. 😦


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 7, 2020 @ 6:29 PM

      • Violence against children is going up as well, and abuse. Children have even less recourse than women, and disabled children – those who are deaf and those who have seizures – top the list.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — April 7, 2020 @ 6:59 PM

  15. 😦 😦 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 7, 2020 @ 7:19 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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