Intimate Partner Violence Among Female OEF/OIF/OND Veterans Who Were Evaluated for Traumatic Brain Injury in the Veterans Health Administration: A Preliminary Investigation

J Interpers Violence. 2020 Jul;35(13-14):2422-2445. doi: 10.1177/0886260517702491. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


Many female veterans have deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND), and some experience traumatic brain injury (TBI). Although TBI is increasingly recognized as an important health issue for female OEF/OIF/OND veterans, there is little attention to stressful experiences that may exacerbate health problems or hinder recovery among veterans who may have experienced TBI. Lifetime intimate partner violence (IPV) is common among general samples of female veterans. Given the negative implications of IPV on women's health, it is important to understand whether there is a relationship between lifetime IPV and health functioning among female veterans who have experienced possible TBI. This study provides an exploration of lifetime IPV and its associations with physical and mental health, as well as community reintegration, among female OEF/OIF/OND veterans who have been evaluated for TBI. The sample comprised 127 female veterans who participated in a larger study that examined reintegration among OEF/OIF/OND veterans who received a TBI evaluation in the Veterans Heath Administration (VHA) and completed an assessment of lifetime IPV. Primary and secondary data sources included survey responses (e.g., health symptoms and reintegration) and VHA administrative data (e.g., health diagnoses). Results indicated that nearly two thirds (63.0%) of women who completed a TBI evaluation reported lifetime IPV, though clinician-confirmed TBI was not associated with IPV. Women who experienced IPV, compared with those who did not, reported higher levels of neurobehavioral symptoms and were significantly more likely to have diagnoses of back pain (48.6% vs. 30.0%, respectively) and substance abuse (12.2% vs. 0%, respectively). Notwithstanding, women with and without lifetime IPV reported similar levels of reintegration. Findings provide evidence that lifetime IPV may be common among female OEF/OIF/OND veterans who are evaluated for TBI, and that IPV is associated with several treatable health problems among this population.

Keywords: concussion; mental health; partner abuse; reintegration; women veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Veterans Health