If beauty and talent could save someone from being the victim of domestic abuse, then Academy awarding-winning actress Halle Berry would not have hearing loss today. Sadly, her hearing loss is tied to being struck forcefully by an unnamed boyfriend back in the early 1990s. The impact was so hard that it punctured her left eardrum.
Maria Halle Berry was born in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the youngest daughter of an English mother and American father. Her parents divorced when she was four due to her father’s mental and physical abuse.
After winning several beauty pageants, Berry moved to New York City in 1989 to pursue acting. By the early 2000s, Berry was one of Hollywood’s successful and highest-paid actresses. But unfortunately, her personal life has been filled with abuse and drama.
Berry has confirmed that she has faced battery and sexual assault both as a child and an adult, and in a speech, for a benefit in New York City, she said, “I devalued myself and thought I wasn’t worth it. I chose partners that mimicked my father.”
“It was only when I was in an abusive relationship and blood squirted on the ceiling of my apartment, and I lost 80% of my hearing in my ear that I realized I have to break the cycle.” she said in an interview.
Her hearing wasn’t completely lost, but only about 20% remains in her left ear. Berry overcame this hearing loss and won an Oscar for best lead actress. It’s no surprise that she actively supports domestic abuse prevention.
How Hearing Loss Can Occur Because Of Violence
As Martin Luther reportedly once said, “Nothing good ever comes of violence.” What was true in the 15th century is still true today. Violence shows no signs of lessening, and hearing loss occurs regularly with trauma to the head.
Depending on the force, head trauma can cause damage to the auditory pathway. This damage can happen anywhere along the path between the outer ear and the brain. Since not all injuries are the same, the potential hearing loss covers a range of possibilities.
A traumatic brain injury can cause ear-related issues like dizziness, tinnitus, vertigo, and, worst of all, hearing loss. You’d think it would take a significant blow to cause such injuries, but it’s surprising how little force it takes to result in a substantial issue. In one case, a previously healthy hearing woman was slapped in the face resulting in acute bleeding from the ear, eye pain, tinnitus, and reduced hearing.
Concussions are likely the most common head injury and result in hearing loss. So any significant blow to the head is dangerous and considered a mild form of a traumatic brain injury.
While concussions aren’t typically life-threatening injuries, they can come with severe symptoms, the worst of which is hearing loss.
Changes that can occur because of a concussion
- Ruptured eardrum
- Damage to the small bones in the middle ear
- Damage to tissues of the inner ear
- Damage to the membranes of the inner ear
- Blood flow disruption to the cochlear nerve
- Damage to the hair cells of the inner ear
Some changes from a concussion are reversible, but sadly, some aren’t. Any of those changes can cause hearing loss.
Traumatic Brain Injury-related Ear Damage Symptoms
Vertigo and dizziness are also frequent symptoms analogous to damage to the ears during a traumatic brain injury. Dizziness occurs in 40-60% of those who suffer a traumatic brain injury. There can be both vestibular (pertaining to the inner ear, balance) and auditory (sense of hearing) symptoms.
- Chronic nausea
- Speech can be difficult to understand, predominantly when background noise is present
- Directional difficulty when locating sounds
- Acute sensitivity to sound, hyperacusis
- Sensorineural or conductive hearing loss
Hearing Loss In Children Who Were Victims Of Violence
The children are the most defenseless victims of violence who end up with hearing loss. Whether the violence was pre or post-birth, the effects are the same. Developmental learning leans heavily on vision and hearing. Early language development, learning, and social skills depend on these senses.
Here are some congenital causes of deafness, some of which can be directly linked to abuse before birth:
- Maternal rubella
- Syphilis and other infections during pregnancy
- Low birth-weight
- Birth asphyxia, which is a lack of oxygen at the time of birth
- Drug use during pregnancy
- Severe jaundice at birth
What Should Victims Do About Hearing Loss Following Abuse?
Those who lose hearing due to abuse should first seek medical attention and evaluation. Early on, developing a baseline for hearing loss will help hearing professionals determine the severity of hearing loss, treatments, and down the line, if progress is being made with reversing the loss.
As a victim, here is some guidance for emotional and practical ways to deal with abuse:
- Realize that abuse is not your fault. It can happen to anyone.
- Speak with people you trust, tell them what’s going on, and ask them for help.
- Prepare for an emergency in the future by having a plan for you and your family.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, leave or call for help.
- Talk to a domestic violence program about your safety and options before leaving.
- Change door locks and passwords
Can Hearing Loss Be Regained?
Depending on the type of hearing loss, there may be hope to regain some if not all of the lost hearing. Conductive hearing loss offers more opportunities for reversal compared to sensorineural hearing loss.
Simply cleaning or removing a blockage in the middle or outer ear is non-invasive to treat conductive hearing loss. Sometimes the procedure may be more involved, but overall conductive hearing loss offers the best chances of recovery.
While sensorineural hearing loss proves to be more challenging to regain, there are still treatments available and devices like hearing aids that can help individuals cope with their level of hearing loss. Cochlear implants may fit other situations better, giving the user their best chance at hearing. Unfortunately, some types of sensorineural loss can not be regained.
Other treatment options:
- Sound therapy- helps with tinnitus
- Stem cell research continues to make progress with hearing loss reversal.
- Viral therapy
- Gene therapy
Hearing Associates Of Las Vegas Offers Hope
Hearing loss because of violence is a horrible circumstance, a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. The treatment and rehabilitation can be complex and can take some time. Those who suffer this fate can count on the professionals at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas to offer hearing loss services plus other resources to help patients maximize their hearing potential.
Don’t suffer another day with hearing loss. Contact us today to see how we can help.