Strangulation and Domestic Violence

In cases of domestic violence, strangulation can determine life or death during and after an assault. As one of the greatest precursors to homicide in domestic violence cases, strangulation should be taken seriously in these circumstances. With information from our books, we can look into how often strangulation occurs in cases of domestic violence and the consequences that come from it.

Strangulation is the “asphyxiation (ie, oxygen deprivation) characterized by closure of the air passage or vessels of the neck, resulting from external pressure applied to the neck” according to our strangulation assessment workbook.

In situations of domestic violence, many do not consider manual strangulation, or choking used with hands, as part of domestic violence. Not only is it considered a serious situation in domestic violence, it is also considered a blunt force trauma to the neck.

According to several studies, between 23% and 68% of women will experience at least 1 strangulation-related incident if they are victims of domestic violence.

Those who use strangulation as a method of violence often go on to repeat offenses (40-60% of the time they commit follow-up crimes, including murder). Perpetrators are six times more likely to attempt homicide and seven times more likely to complete homicide after strangulation of their victim.

Unfortunately, strangulation victims may not see physical signs after an attack and therefore do not think damage has been done. Because 62% of attacks show no visible injury on the victim, it is not uncommon to make the assumption no physical harm was done. Although death from strangulation can be immediate, in some circumstances it can happen later on–sometimes up to weeks or months.

When confronted with a patient who has experienced strangulation, health professionals should look for other signs and symptoms including loss of consciousness, incontinence, bleeding, coughing, headache, vision changes, nausea, lightheadedness, numbness, and irritability–this could indicate physical harm was done and the victim has a higher likelihood of follow-up damage or death.

Manual Nonfatal Strangulation Assessment provides detailed case studies and questions for those who want to learn more about treating patients of strangulation, including how to look for signs of strangulation.

If you are someone who helps those who have experienced abuse, maltreatment, or neglect, our books can offer valuable information to you in your work. For more information on what we do, check out our website or subscribe to our newsletter.

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