Making the Invisible, Visible: Identifying Victims of Intimate Partner Violence


For this post, the Department of Quality and Safety asked Bharti Khurana, MD, founding director of the Trauma Imaging Research and Innovation Center, and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, to talk about her groundbreaking project that works to more quickly and easily identify victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) based on imaging results.

Did you know? Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men report experiencing some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) at some point in their lives.1 Launched by the Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization in 2013, the Brigham Care Redesign Incubator and Startup Program (BCRISP), works to improve the care we provide to our patients across the Brigham with the goal of solving leading healthcare challenges, such as IPV. BCRISP invests in proposals led by front-line clinicians, facilitates testing of promising ideas, scales successful projects and creates programs that deliver clinical, operational and financial value. The program has engaged every clinical department across our hospital and has sponsored 74 pilots over the past seven years.

In its most recent cohort, BCRISP supported a project led by Dr. Khurana, a radiologist at the Brigham, entitled “Making the Invisible Visible: Intimate Partner Violence.” As research on the COVID-19 pandemic continues to show increased rates of IPV nationwide,2 this work on early and more streamlined identification of IPV has become even more critical.

This project started because Dr. Khurana realized that while radiologists can easily identify child abuse, there were still opportunities for identifying adult cases of intimate partner violence. With a background in both trauma identification and artificial intelligence, Dr. Khurana began thinking about how to incorporate artificial intelligence into adult IPV identification.

Through BCRISP and additional funding, Dr. Khurana and her team have reviewed numerous images of patients who have experienced IPV. Based on patterns they have identified, they are in the process of creating an algorithm to more easily spot victims and, ultimately, give them the resources they need to prevent future harm. Dr. Khurana is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the development of the algorithm and it is her hope that it will be completed by the end of 2021. The team is optimistic that this algorithm will inform standard clinical care at the Brigham and be helpful to hospitals and patients nationwide.

Example radiographic images of patients who have experienced IPV; taken with permission from the Trauma Imaging and Research Innovation Center and Bharti Khurana. Patient photos have been deidentified.

If you or someone you know is experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), please reference these resources to seek help:

For more information on BCRISP, please email the team at In addition, you can find a recent publication on the program here.

To hear more about the work that Dr.  Khurana and her colleagues are working on around IPV, please reference the following publications and websites:


  1. Breiding, MJ. Black MC. Ryan GW. Prevalence and Risk Factors of Intimate Partner Violence in Eighteen U.S. States/Territories, 2005. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008 Feb. PMID: 18201640.
  2. Evans, ML., Lindauer, M., Farrell ME. A Pandemic within a Pandemic- Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19. New England Journal of Medicine. 2020 Sept 16. PMID: 32937063.