On Monday, Kansas lawmakers will hear House Bill 2017, which would make strangling someone a felony crime. Currently, the law is vague and broad, leaving a loophole and lack of punishment for assaulters.
Jennifer Johnson and Jennifer Bieberdorf work at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, in the hospital’s FACT Program.
They have hundreds of pictures of their patients. Many of those pictures show signs of strangulation, one of the most deadly forms of domestic violence.
Johnson started the FACT Program, which serves victims of abuse. She said 42 percent of the domestic violence victims who come through the doors were strangled.
“It’s very serious. It’s lethal,” Johnson said.
Yet, there’s no language in Kansas’ current laws that guarantees punishment for this type of assault.
Forensics nurse and advocate Jennifer Bieberdorf is fighting for a change.
“I had a patient. And she looked at me and turned out she had been strangled multiple times by her partner,” Bieberdorf explained. “I gave her the choice. Would you like to report to law enforcement? She said, ‘They’re not going to do anything. He’s done it before, and he walked out of jail.’”
Next week, Bieberdorf will testify in front of Kansas lawmakers. She’ll ask them to pass a bill that would make strangulation a category five felony.
“Basically what this law would do is just add language, so prosecutors can prosecute,” Bieberdorf said.
She hopes the bill will offer victims more protection, and assaulters a harsher punishment.
“I want to be able to look at my patients and tell them no, he’s going to be held accountable and you’re going to be safe.”