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Strangulation and Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence, Strangulation and Brain Damage

FACT:  Abusers who strangle their victims are 800% more likely to later murder them.

For so many years, I downplayed the domestic violence I lived with. I didn’t want to be dramatic, to overstate my case, to have people think I was being a baby. I mentioned it on occasion, but I never wanted to spend much time explaining the broken ribs, busted lips and strangulation.  Now, more than 30 years later, I have begun to educate myself, and I don’t like what I’m learning.

Strangling, not choking. I never thought about the nuances of my word choice, but it certainly does sound more violent to say that he strangled me. I don’t like using the word though. It sounds so harsh. Maybe that’s why I always soften it. I mean, did he really strangle me?

Let’s see, all I remember is that he sat on top of my chest, used his knees to pin my arms to my sides and wrapped his hands around my neck. Then he applied pressure to my airway until I could no longer breath. For a while. But wait, I didn’t end up unconscious or dead, so should I call it strangling?

Do we have to wait to die to call it what it is? I recently read an article about the importance of educating police, EMTs and others about the distinctions between choking and strangulation.

Kids choke on hot dogs or hard candy. Adults choke on big pieces of steak or a drink that “goes down the wrong way.” It happens accidentally, and no one is at fault.

Strangulation is what one person does to another. They do it on purpose with the intention of creating fear and causing harm. Sometimes the victim struggles for breath until they are freed. Sometimes they lose consciousness, and sometimes they die.

He strangled me. Now I can say it. Now I wonder why I didn’t call the police and scream, “You need to get over here because my husband just strangled me.” I wonder why I never pressed charges so I would have the opportunity to stand before a judge and say, “Yes, your honor, he strangled me.” I wonder why I didn’t tell my friends, “Get me out of here. This creep just strangled me!”

Now that I accept that he strangled me, I also have to accept a disturbing possibility. Cutting off someone’s oxygen by blocking their airway can result in brain damage in a very short amount of time.

Brain damage. Now that’s harsh. But now I can’t go back and call the police or press charges or stand before a judge or ask my friends to help me. Now all I can do is wait and see what strangling did to me.

Advocate for yourself!  I wish I had.

#domesticviolence #domesticabuse #strangulation #gladtobealive