Survivor Stories: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Bruises, broken bones or black eyes are easy to see, and the pain that radiates from them is understandable. But when it comes to brain injuries, they often go unnoticed. That’s why they are known as an invisible injury. This is often the case for victims of domestic violence, where 83% report being both hit in the head and severely shaken during an assault.

Donations are helping VBIS shed light on this very issue so others with brain injuries don’t have to suffer like Valentina has over the last eight years.
Things were great when the relationship began for Valentina, a single mom with a 14-year-old son. Her new partner made her feel special, saying nice things and treating her well. Then things took a turn for the worse. He introduced her to drugs, and began emotionally abusing her, slowly gaining control over her life.
One day, Valentina awoke to find herself bruised and battered. Realizing she had been drugged, she desperately tried to recall what had happened but couldn’t. The physical and emotional abuse continued, and she began experiencing struggles with vision, balance, reading, and concentration, making it difficult to carry out daily tasks and fulfill her management role in the non-profit sector.

The various medical professionals she sought help from, disregarded her symptoms and physical abuses, never once suggesting she be screened for brain injury. Instead, they quickly concluded it was due to mental illness. Even her attempts to seek justice weren’t taken seriously as police just saw her as a mentally unstable person, not as a victim of abuse and head trauma.

Once free from her partner, Valentina moved to Victoria to start anew. It was a visit to a dentist that triggered the memories of the brutal attack she sustained when her partner had drugged her. Based on the memories, it wasn’t a surprise to Valentina to hear that her severe dental issues were a result of that same attack. It was the dentist who suggested she explore the possibility that the attack may have also caused a brain injury.

Thanks to the dentist, Valentina discovered she did indeed sustain brain injuries from multiple assaults. She could finally seek proper treatment and start creating a positive future for herself and her son, who is now an adult.

Valentina discovered VBIS, a place of safety filled with caring people who accept everyone for who they are. She fully admits that VBIS is what has kept her going, especially during her toughest days, and she will be forever grateful to all who support the lifechanging work we do.

Our donors have helped Valentina and hundreds of other VBIS clients every year by providing hope, tools to deal with everyday things others take for granted, and a safe place free from judgement.

Through the Relationship Abuse and Brain Injury program (RABI), VBIS wants to spread the word to law enforcement and service providers that domestic violence survivors need to be screened for brain injuries. No one should have to suffer like Valentina has, to get the answers they need to recover and to seek justice for crimes committed against them.

Join Us. Become a donor today and make a change in a life of an intimate partner violence survivor.

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Victoria Brain Injury Society

Units C, D & E 830 Pembroke Street
Victoria, B.C. V8T 1H9

Phone: 250-598-9339


The Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) is situated on the traditional territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) Peoples. We recognize and express gratitude to the Peoples and Nations in our community, and those throughout the regions we service.