The stress of being in court may exacerbate symptoms like disorganization, aggressiveness or confusion, and lead the judge to see her as mentally ill or hold her accountable for things that are not within her control. If she also has PTSD related to the abuse, it may be even harder for the judge to understand her behavior, take the abuse seriously, or see her as a reliable witness against her partner.
She may have trouble retaining custody of her children, even if she is able to care for them. As stressful as the court process is for any woman at risk of losing her children, it can be even more difficult for a woman with a brain injury. It will also be harder for her to cope with the stress of confronting her abusive partner in court.
In advocating for a victim with a TBI in court, bear in mind that:
- She may need you to help her prepare ahead of time for court appearances, but she may not remember the preparation that was done.
- She will need clear directions for where to go, when to be there, and what to expect.
- She may need you to provide on-hand support and coaching during court sessions.
- She may want you to reach out to her attorney, the prosecutor’s victim-witness liaison, or others involved in her case, to help them understand how the TBI affects her ability to work with them.