Non-Lethal Strangulation: “Red Flag” Of Family Violence


Six states have classified non-lethal strangulations as felonies, says Women’s eNews. They are Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, reports Women’s eNews, citing the Battered Women’s Justice Project in Minneapolis. The crime is said to affect about one of every five battered women. Non-lethal strangulation assaults are one of the “red flags” of deadly family violence. First responders are being trained better to detect signs of strangulation, which women usually describe as “choking.” Although external injuries might not be obvious to a casual observer, clinicians and criminal justice advocates say tell-tale signs are apparent in about half of all strangulation victims. As with rape, physical injuries are often absent.

The breakthrough in identifying and prosecuting strangulation assaults began in San Diego during the late 1990s. Before the San Diego research, red marks around the eyes were often dismissed as evidence that a victim was crying, says Jennifer Long of the American Prosecutors Research Institute, the research arm of the National District Attorneys Association in Alexandria, Va. Now, red marks around the eyes–medically known as petechiae (pah-TEEK-ee-eye)–can serve as a tip that a victim has been strangled.


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