Non-fatal strangulation in intimate partner violence is a powerful predictor of femicide, the main cause of premature death for women globally. A woman who has been targeted for non-fatal strangulation by a partner or family member is 750% more like to be killed by the same perpetrator.
Non-Fatal Strangulation Is A Gendered Crime
Non-fatal strangulation, also known as non-fatal asphyxiation, affects 10 times as many women as men, making it a gendered form of domestic violence. It occurs in 45% of attempted femicides.
Non-fatal strangulation and stalking are considered two of the most serious red flags of escalating aggression that can lead to femicide.
“It actually takes about 7 seconds occlusion of the blood vessels to make someone unconscious,” Gail Starr, clinical coordinator for Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).
Healthcare Workers Can Be A Lifeline For Victim-Survivors
Informed healthcare professional are often the only hope for women targeted for non-fatal strangulation by current and former intimate partner or family members. It is often overlooked as victim-survivors are often too terrified and disoriented to report the violence they are experiencing at the hands of their partners and family members.
Traces of non-fatal strangulation are only discernible in 50% of the cases. Therefore, learning to identify the signs of non-fatal strangulation is crucial in femicide prevention.
Some physical signs of non-fatal strangulation are:
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Brain damage
- Hoarse voice
- Motor and speech disorders
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
- Memory loss
- Seeing dark spots
- Tunnel vision
- Memory loss
Non-fatal strangulation can lead to strokse as there is a risk of blood clots forming in the artery. The strokes can occur days or weeks after the act of violence occurred.
Some psychological signs of non-fatal strangulation include:
- Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
Legislation Against Non-Fatal Strangulation
So far non-fatal strangulation has been criminalized in England and Wales, where it carries a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
- Costello, B. (2022, March 2) ‘Report: Choking, strangulation victims 750% more likely to be killed by offender.’ KOB4. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
- Finlon, K. (2018, October 26) ‘Expert: Choking strongly predicts homicide’ The Associated Press. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
- Stacey, M. (October 12) ‘Manual strangulation is the biggest sign domestic abuse will turn deadly, experts say.’ 13 WTHR. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
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