Non-Fatal Strangulation Laws and Domestic Violence

This week is the anniversary of the attack which ultimately led to the death of Monica Weber-Jeter, a medical assistant and mother of five whose husband killed her after being released from prison on a charge of misdemeanor assault.  Her abusive husband served 11 days in jail for strangling Weber-Jeter and went on to stab her and leave her bleeding and in critical condition in front of two of their children.  She died a month later from the injury.  

This case has brought much awareness to the issue that in many states, including Ohio where this tragedy occurred, strangulation cannot be considered felony assault due to lack of overt physical damage to the victim.  Despite the lack of physical evidence, strangulation must be taken much more seriously, as it can lead quickly to life-long mental issues or death and even non-fatal strangulation is often a precursor to homicide.

According to our Violence Against Women resource, in one eleven-city study, non-fatal strangulation was present prior to 46% of IP homicides.  Abuse victims who have been strangled as a form of abuse are more than 7 times more likely to be murdered by their partner than other abused women.  One Chicago study found that nearly one-fourth of women murdered by an intimate partner were killed by strangulation.

For these reasons, many support the proposal that specifically non-fatal strangulation should be treated as felony assault, as it could easily result in immediate death and is most often an indication that the perpetrator is not only violent but willing to kill his or her partner.  In response to the tragedy they faced, Weber-Jeter’s family has begun a petition asking Ohio to change their laws about non-fatal strangulation.

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