Injuries from Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence: Significance and Classification Systems

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While intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence (SV) are highly associated with injury, the healthcare and legal significance of these injuries is controversial. Purpose: Herein we propose to explore the significance of injury in IPV and SV and examine the current status of injury classification systems from the perspectives of the healthcare and criminal justice systems. We will review current injury classification systems and suggest a typology of injury that could be tested empirically. Findings: Within the published literature, we found that no commonly-accepted injury typology exists. While nuanced and controversial issues surround the role of injury detection in the sexual assault forensic examination, enough evidence exists to support the continued pursuance of a scientific approach to injury classification. We propose an injury typology that is measureable, is applicable to the healthcare setting and criminal justice system, and allows us to use uses a matrix approach that includes a severity score, anatomic location, and injury type. We suggest a typology that might be used for further empirical testing on the validity and reliability of IPV and SV injury data. Conclusion: We recommend that the community of scientists concerned about IPV and SV develop a more rigorous injury classification system that will improve the quality of forensic evidence proffered and decisions made throughout the criminal justice process.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, vol. 19 no. 5.(2012) DOI# 10.1016/j.jflm.2012.02.014.