Strangulation 101: The Last Warning Shot
Strangulation has only recently been identified as one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence: unconsciousness may occur within seconds and death within minutes. When domestic violence perpetrators choke (strangle) their victims, not only is this a felonious assault, but it may be an attempted homicide. Strangulation is an ultimate form of power and control, where the batterer can demonstrate control over the victim’s next breath, having devastating psychological effects or a potentially fatal outcome.
It can be difficult to document and prosecute strangulation cases despite their lethality because injuries may appear to be minor or non-existent. However, medical research has shown this is far from the case—victims of strangulation can experience lasting medical and psychological consequences. Proper training of police officers, prosecutors, and medical professionals is vital to improving the prosecution of these offenders in felony or attempted murder strangulation cases.
- Increase understanding of the signs and symptoms of strangulation
- Improve understanding of the documentation of evidence and follow up investigations
- Improve understanding of advocacy for victims
- Increased awareness of the seriousness of strangulation assaults
Gael Strack is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Alliance for HOPE International. The Alliance has five main programs: the National Family Justice Center, Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, Camp HOPE America, VOICES and the Justice Legal Network. Gael is an internationally recognized expert in non-fatal strangulation cases and regularly trains on numerous topics. Gael is also an Adjunct Professor at California Western School of Law teaching a class on “Domestic Violence and the Law”.
Casey Gwinn is the President and Co-Founder of the Alliance. He is the visionary behind the Family Justice Center Movement, first proposing the concept of the Family Justice Center model in 1989. Casey founded Camp HOPE America in 2003. He is a national expert on domestic violence dynamics, including investigation and prosecution, the handling of non-fatal strangulation cases, and is one of the leading thinkers in the country on the science of hope. Prior to this position, Casey was the elected San Diego City Attorney.