Strangulation cases are taken seriously
ESCANABA — Strangulation in intimate partner violence is nothing new, however, strangulation has more recently become recognized for the danger it poses to the victim and the community as a whole. It takes about 5 pounds of pressure to crack an egg and an adult male’s handshake is, on average, 80 to 100 pounds of pressure? Even more surprising, it takes even less force to strangle someone to the point of unconsciousness. It takes only 4.4 to 11 pounds of pressure on the neck. That pressure only needs to be applied for mere seconds for the victim to lose consciousness. If a batterer applies this minimal amount of pressure for more than a minute, that victim could die. Do you believe a batterer, in the midst of strangling their partner, is using the minimal amount of force?
Strangulation is the ultimate form of power and control. The batterer can demonstrate complete control over the victim’s next breath. This can not only have extreme psychological effects, but could lead to the victim’s death. Even if the victim is fortunate enough to survive that initial strangulation, the odds of a homicide at the hands of a batterer increases 750 percent for victims who have been strangled, compared to victims who have never been strangled.
Even with the terrifying potential consequence for a strangulation victim, identifying an individual as a victim of strangulation is a difficult task. Only 50 percent of victims have visible injuries.
Of those victims, only 15 percent have injuries that could be photographed. While this might seem odd, if you think about a wrestling match it becomes much clearer. Imagine someone has placed their opponent in a “choke hold.” Even if that wrestler taps out before he or she loses consciousness, they have experienced a strangulation event. Does that wrestler have marks on their neck? Victims of strangulation also often have odd or combative behaviors, and could appear under the influence of some substance. This odd behavior can be contributed to the oxygen and blood deprivation that victim suffered at the hands of the batterer.
There is also a significant connection between a batterer who strangles their victim and that batterer’s escalated violence in the community. A look at some of the recent mass casualty events shows a common history of perpetrators committing strangulation assaults on their intimate partners. Specifically, the perpetrator of the Orlando Pulse night club shooting in 2016, the perpetrator of the Sutherland Springs, Texas First Baptist Church shooting of 2017, and the perpetrator of the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in 2017, all had a history of strangulation.
It’s for these reasons, law enforcement, victim advocates, medical personnel, and the Prosecutor’s Office takes all potential strangulation cases seriously.
The victims face long term potential medical consequences. Our office, along with the community as a whole, has been working to provide the necessary services and support to victims of strangulation, and all intimate partner violence. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of strangulation will go a long way to protecting these vulnerable individuals, as well as our community as a whole.
For more information about the effects of strangulation, please visit the Training Institute for Strangulation Prevention at strangulationtraininginstitute.com. Please feel free to contact me at the Delta County Prosecutor’s Office by telephone at (906) 789-5115 or in person at the Delta County Courthouse.