By: Sherele Moody
MACKAY, QUEENSLAND – At least 10 domestic violence abusers from Mackay have been charged under Queensland’s tough new strangulation laws.
The nine men and one woman face seven years in jail if found guilty of non-lethal strangulation, choking or suffocation in a domestic relationship.
Queensland Police data shows more than 230 people were charged across the state between April and October.
Mackay’s top cop, Assistant Commissioner Alistair Dawson, said while the number of people charged with strangulation was low it was highly likely many victims were not coming forward.
Mr Dawson said the crime was a common prelude to murder and could have lasting impacts for victims and for children who saw the attacks.
“It can have a lasting impact on the victim both medically and psychologically because it can cause other traumas later on and it can lead to serious medical conditions.
“Children can be traumatised by watching a parent being strangled and it sends a message to young people that this is acceptable and normal behaviour.
“If there are people who have this happening to them I would ask them to report it, to come and talk to us.”
DV Connect chief executive Di Mangan said non-lethal strangulation happened daily in Queensland.
Ms Mangan said the crime needed tough sentencing options because it was one of the “five top indicators to domestic homicide”.
“Women can die hours later (after strangulation) because of swelling in the neck area,” Ms Mangan said.
“We had a case a number of years ago where the woman had been strangled but refused to go to hospital … and she died during the night.”
The Red Rose Foundation will host a three-day conference where police, family violence professionals and advocates, health workers and others will hear from American strangulation experts Gael Strack and Dr William Smock.
Ms Strack said it was vital that anyone coming into contact with domestic violence victims was aware of the dangers.
She pointed to the recent Florida Airport tragedy where a man who strangled his partner shot dead five people and injured six others.
“(This was) no surprise to any of us in the field but yet another story where the system keeps missing the significance of strangulation,” said Ms Strack who is the founding director of the San Diego Family Justice Centre.
The Specialist Strangulation Training conference will be held at Royal on the Park in Brisbane from February 20-22.
Concerned community members are invited to attend and bookings are available here.
Domestic violence survivor reveals the horror of having the life crushed out of you
DOMESTIC violence survivor Kerri stared death in the face 13 years ago.
One evening, as her children slept nearby, her then partner wrapped his huge hands around her slim throat, crushing her windpipe as he pinned her against the wall.
After enduring seven years of emotional and physical torment, Kerri decided that if she survived this attack it was the last time her abuser would hurt her.
“He pushed me over a small divider wall and I yelled for him to stop,” Kerri said of the terrifying few minutes in which she believed she would die.
“That’s when he grabbed me by the throat and held me against the wall.
“My mother instinct kicked in – it was fear for my children, it was fear that he was going to kill me and my children would not have a mother.”
Struggling to breathe and no match for his brute strength, Kerri said her mind went into overdrive.
“Everything was rushing through my head, I was in my parents’ house and I was thinking mum and dad were going to come home and find me dead.
“They were going to get a phone call that he had killed me.
“There were a million thoughts in such a short time – it’s just one after the other.
“There’s a lot of disbelief and your thinking is ‘He’s going to kill me, why is he doing this?’.”
When Kerri’s abuser let her go and ran off after their children started crying and screaming, the terrified mum contacted police and a domestic violence order was placed on him.
Kerri has since re-partnered and is completing a masters in social work with the aim of using her knowledge and experience to help domestic violence victims.
She said the Queensland Government’s decision to add non-lethal strangulation to the criminal code was long overdue acknowledgment that this type of assault could be deadly.
“The research is really quite clear that strangulation leads to murder,” Kerri said.
“If you’re strangling someone, you’re trying to kill them.”
*For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of people charged with domestic violence strangulation offences in Queensland from April 19, 2016 to October 16, 2016
POLICE DISTRICT, CHARGED
North Brisbane, 36
South Brisbane, 21
Wide Bay Burnett, 13
Far North, 19
Mount Isa, 10
Gold Coast, 41
Darling Downs, 6
South West, 9
POLICE REGION, CHARGED
South Eastern, 51
Source: Queensland police
Article Source: Crackdown on Mackay abusers who choke partners
By: Sherele Moody