Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Criminal Justice

Overview of the Issue

Special Cases

Strangulation Cases

It is critical to identify strangulation assaults as they can quickly escalate, potentially causing brain injury and death. Routinely ask every abuse victim, “Did the abuser strangle you?” and “Did you lose consciousness at any point?” If the victim says, “No,” then ask, “Did he put his hands around your neck and squeeze?” If the victim indicates that she was strangled (many victims will say they were “choked” instead), then DOCUMENT THE DETAILS and get her emergency medical treatment immediately.

It is critical to ask the victim:
What did the abuser use to strangle you? An object, cord, plastic bag, hands, etc.
Some facts about Strangulation:

** It is CRITICAL that you examine any suspected victim of domestic violence for bruising behind the victim’s ears and/or signs of petechiae, which will present as tiny red “pin point dots” in the whites of the victim’s eyes resulting from broken blood vessels and internal bleeding. Both types of bruising are classic strangulation injuries and should be photographed and documented clearly on the DIR and followed up with immediate medical attention.

Law enforcement and other professionals can download the brochure, Domestic Violence and Strangulation: A Guide for Victims and Professionals