October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, so we wanted to support the movement and connect it to the field of Radiology. Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically between a spouse or partner, but could also include children. Sometimes domestic violence cases can go unnoticed and stay under the radar, but radiologists can recognize typical signs and intervene to advocate for a patient who might be going through it.
If a radiologist recognizes signs of domestic abuse, then the situation is extremely serious. It could be a broken bone, internal tissue problems, or another physical sign that can be seen through an imaging machine that becomes a red flag for doctors. In reality though, the prevalence of domestic violence is much higher than the percentage of cases a radiologist might see, so the few cases doctors might see represent some of the most severe cases.
So, how can radiologists determine domestic violence?
Most domestic violence assaults are directed at the head, neck, and face, so radiologists are hyperaware of the possibility of abuse when patients have fractures or pain in these areas. In fact, the two most common causes of facial trauma are motor vehicle accidents and domestic violence, which aren't too hard to distinguish between. In a study on mandibular (jaw-area) fractures, alleged assaults were the most common cause and over 60% of the women's fractures happened at home.
Is the medical community spreading domestic violence awareness?
The amount of articles, studies, and literature that exists concerning radiology and domestic violence is very low, so awareness can definitely be increased in the medical community. This month is a great time to get involved and work towards eliminating domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has plenty of resources and ideas about how you can do your part, so go check them out! If you are in danger or know someone who might be, the National Domestic Violence hotline is always available and there to help, just call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).