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Strangulation is a particularly dangerous form of abuse that can have severe physical and psychological consequences. In this feature, we aim to define strangulation, explain its risks, outline next steps for safety, and provide essential resources for assistance.

Strangulation, also known as choking or strangling, involves the deliberate act of applying pressure to the neck in order to impede breathing and blood circulation. It is a potentially lethal form of violence that can cause serious injury or death within minutes. Strangulation is not only a physical assault but also a tactic of power and control used by abusers to instill fear and manipulate victims. Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence: unconsciousness may occur within seconds, and death within minutes.

Recognizing the Risks:

Domestic violence strangulation poses immediate and long-term risks to survivors. Some potential risks include:


  • Loss of consciousness

  • Brain damage

  • Respiratory issues

  • Neurological damage

  • Voice changes or difficulty speaking

  • Internal injuries

  • Psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Increased risk of future harm, including homicide

  • It’s possible to show no outward symptoms of strangulation but die weeks later due to lack of oxygen and other internal injuries.

Common Symptoms of Strangulation:

While it is possible to die from strangulation without showing symptoms, physical symptoms can occur, and it’s important to recognize them. They can include:

  • sore throat

  • difficulty swallowing

  • neck pain

  • hoarseness

  • bruising on the neck or behind your ears

  • discoloration on your tongue

  • ringing in your ears

  • bloodshot eyes

  • dizziness

  • memory loss

  • drooling

  • nausea or vomiting

  • difficulty breathing

  • incontinence

  • seizure

  • miscarriage

  • changes in mood or personality, like agitation or aggression

  • changes in sleep patterns

  • changes in vision, such as blurriness or seeing double

  • fainted or lost consciousness

Taking Immediate Action:

If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence strangulation, it is crucial to take immediate action to ensure safety:


  • Call 911: If you or someone else is in immediate danger or requires medical attention, call 911 without hesitation.

  • Seek Medical Care: Even if injuries seem minor, seek medical attention to assess any potential internal damage or complications.

  • Document Injuries: Photograph injuries and write down details of the incident as evidence for legal proceedings or protection orders.

  • Reach Out for Support: Contact local domestic violence resources, such as the San Joaquin County Family Justice Center, for assistance and guidance.

Resources and Support:

We are here to help you on your journey to safety and healing. Reach out to us at the San Joaquin County Family Justice Center, regardless of if you have a crime report, for confidential and comprehensive support.

Here are additional resources for more information:

Contact the San Joaquin County Family Justice Center at 209-468-2600 for assistance. Your safety is our priority.

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