Strangulation


Strangulation—or choking—is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence. Strangulation can cause unconsciousness within seconds and death within minutes. Abusers can use their hands, arms, legs, or any cords, belts, or other objects, on the victim’s neck or throat to strangle them. This stops blood flow to the brain and keeps the victim from being able to breathe.
Medical illustration of human throat area.
  • When an abuser gets to the point of strangling—or choking—someone, they are showing that they have the intent and ability to kill.
  • Strangulation is extremely dangerous and considered the best predictor of future homicide—murder—of victims of domestic violence.
Effects of strangulation—including brain damage, difficulty breathing, and dizziness, miscarriage if you are pregnant, and even death—can set in hours or days after the incident. While symptoms may occur, many people have no visible signs after strangulation.

Because of this, we strongly encourage anyone who has possibly been a victim of strangulation to seek medical treatment immediately. Crime Victim’s Compensation may be available to help assist you in this. Even if you feel okay, your life could depend on it.

MONITOR AND LOG YOUR SIGNS OF STRANGULATION


Keep a record of any injuries you experienced from being strangled, including changes of the injuries over time after the assault.

Record of Assault

DATE AND TIME VISIBLE SIGNS DID YOU TAKE A PHOTO
(Yes or No)
WHAT ELSE DID YOU FEEL OR EXPERIENCE
       
       
       

Signs and Symptoms of Strangulation



Neurological

  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of sensation
  • Extremity weakness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Fainting
  • Urination
  • Defecation
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Voice & Throat Changes

  • Raspy or hoarse voice
  • Unable to speak
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Painful to swallow
  • Clearing the throat
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  • Sore throat
  • Stridor

Breathing Changes

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Unable to breath

Chest

  • Chest pain
  • Redness
  • Scratch marks
  • Bruising
  • Abrasions

Face

  • Petechiae (tiny red spots-slightly red or florid)
  • Scratch marks
  • Facial drooping
  • Swelling

Eyes & Eyelids

  • Petechiae to eyeball
  • Petechiae to eyelid
  • Bloody red eyeball(s)
  • Vision changes
  • Droopy eyelid

Ears

  • Ringing in ears
  • Petechiae on earlobe(s)
  • Bruising behind the ear
  • Bleeding in the ear

Mouth

  • Bruising
  • Swollen tongue
  • Swollen lips
  • Cuts / abrasions
  • Internal petechiae

Neck

  • Redness
  • Scratch marks
  • Finger nail impressions
  • Bruising (thumb or fingers)
  • Swelling
  • Ligature marks
Medical illustration for signs of strangulation
Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention