Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Health Care

Domestic Violence and Strangulation: A Guide for Victims and Professionals (PDF Version)

Strangulation and the Law

In New York State, it is a crime to block normal breathing or blood circulation of another person by using hands, arms, legs, an object or in any other way. Penalties are more severe if there is evidence of loss of consciousness or any other physical injuries or impairments associated with the signs and symptoms in this brochure. Applicable New York State statutes include Penal Law §121.11 Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, Penal Law §121.12 Strangulation in the Second Degree and Penal Law §121.13 Strangulation in the First Degree.

Strangulation Is Not “Choking”
Pressure (compression) applied to the outside of the neck Airway blocked (obstructed from the inside of the neck)
Pressure restricts blood and air getting to and from the brain Food or other foreign object partly or entirely blocks the windpipe (trachea)
Usually intentional (done by someone to someone) Usually accidental (generally while eating)
Potential serious physical injury or death, even after the external pressure ends Minimal potential for long-term physical injury after the blockage is removed

Strangulation is:

*Glass et al. (2008). Non-fatal strangulation is an important risk factor for homicide of women. The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 35(3), 329-335.

Common Symptoms of Strangulation:
Strangulation Can Result In:
Signs of Strangulation:

Remember: Some strangulation victims may have no symptoms or visible injuries.

What Professionals Might Hear:

“He choked me.” “I thought I was going to die.” “I couldn’t breathe.” “I lost control of my bowels.” “I passed out.” “Everything was fuzzy.” “I was dizzy.” “I had a head rush.” “Everything was black and white.” “I lost control of my bladder.” “I thought that I was being hung by his hands.”

Recommendations for Professionals:

Screening and counseling for domestic violence are covered under the Affordable Care Act as preventive health care.


NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence:

The Strangulation Training Institute:

NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline:

Confidential, 24 hrs/7 days, English, español & multi-language accessibility

711: Deaf or Hard of Hearing

In NYC: 311 or 800-621-HOPE (4673)
TDD: 800-810-7444