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”.
Joe Bianco has a BA is in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and an MS in Criminal Justice from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Before joining the Alliance, Joe was a police officer for 16 years with the New York City Police Department and San Diego Police Department. He was assigned as a detective to the Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Unit for a total of 6 years. Joe is recognized as a court expert in non-fatal strangulation cases and domestic violence dynamics. In additional to his experience in law enforcement, he spent a year working for child welfare services for the State of New Hampshire.