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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
SW: Feature Report Channel
Reported January 7, 2012

Domestic Violence: Invisible Scars


What is it? Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of violence. It is a form of asphyxia (lack of oxygen) in which blood vessels and air passages are closed as a result of external pressure on the neck. Strangulation is not the same as choking. Choking refers to an internal injury, whereas strangulation refers to an external injury. Strangulation can induce the loss of consciousness within about 10 seconds and death within 4-5 minutes. There are three forms of strangulation: hanging, manual and ligature. Manual strangulation is the most common form of strangulation used in domestic violence cases. 
Some Facts about Strangulation: 
Studies show that 23% to 68% of female victims of domestic violence have experienced at least one strangulation assault by a male partner during their lifetime.
Strangulation can be a recurring form of violence. In a study of 62 abused women who came to a shelter, 68% had a history of strangulation, and on average, each woman had been strangled 5.3 times in their relationships.
Strangulation can pose physical health effects such as dizziness, nausea, sore throat, voice changes, throat and neck injuries, breathing problems, swallowing problems, ringing in the ears, and vision changes. It can also cause neurological effects like facial drooping, eyelid drooping, loss of sensation, loss of memory and paralysis. Psychological effects such as depression and PTSD are also common. 
Strangulation often leaves no marks or external evidence on the skin. In a study of police records of 300 strangulation cases, victims did not have any visible injury in 50% of the cases, and in 35% of the cases, the injuries were too minor for the police to photograph.
Audrey Bergin
DOVE Program Coordinator
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