A toolkit to address the intersection of traumatic brain injury and intimate partner violence


ABI Research Lab, University of Toronto


Qualitative Research

User Personas

Journey Mapping

Information Architecture


Visual Design

Website Design




Every year thousands of Canadian women experience intimate partner violence (IPV) potentially causing disabling permanent traumatic brain injuries (TBI). This connection, and its implications, is still left largely unexplored. 

ABI Research Lab came to Pivot to design and build a digital toolkit that could address this gap in knowledge and services. By raising awareness and education for front-line workers about TBI, the goal was to improve care for survivors who experience intimate partner violence which may have resulted in TBI. The toolkit was also to be a resource for survivors themselves who may not be aware of the connection between their abuse and symptoms of brain injury.


To better understand the experience of a survivor and the gaps in her care, we began our research by interviewing shelter directors and survivors. From what we learned, we created a journey map following the stages of a survivor’s experience, from the abuse incident through her stay and eventual exit from a shelter. This deep dive into the world of TBI, IPV and women’s shelters allowed us to more clearly understand what needed to be included in the toolkit and how it could fit into a front-line worker’s day-to-day workflow.

The toolkit is fully bilingual in French and English and meets accessibility standards for a variety of visual abilities. An evolving resource that is regularly updated, it includes key information on brain injuries, current research, direct service tools and resources, and practice recommendations for supporting women survivors of IPV and TBI.


Since its launch in 2019, the toolkit has received overwhelmingly positive feedback and is being accessed around the world. It is particularly effective as not only a comprehensive resource of information, but it also takes on the more sensitive task of encouraging front line workers to change their practices and take up new ways of relating with their clients: “We felt that the information, understanding the impact of traumatic brain injury on the women we are working with, was tremendous. We had one client who might be considered complicated and challenging, but once her history of injury was documented, we were able to adjust our strategies.” –Service Provider, Women’s Habitat.


See the toolkit for yourself: abitoolkit.ca

“Pivot helped us see our end user in a different way. Not only did it change how we built the toolkit, but it’s also changed how I will do research moving forward. It’s given me new ways to step outside of my assumptions and my bias.”

Project Lead, ABI Research Lab

“I’m incredibly proud of this product because I know it’s dealing with an issue that’s incredibly important, and I know that we are moving forward and helping a lot of women who’ve been misunderstood for so many years. I’m incredibly grateful to Pivot for their willingness to work with us as a team of researchers, and also because I know that Pivot has taken this project to their hearts too.”

Project Lead, ABI Research Lab