Article: Life and Death in Your Hands: Strangulation more common in domestic abuse cases

This article by Jo Ciavaglia from the Philadelphia Intelligencer describes the dangers of strangulation, which have been downplayed because the victim often survives:

Non-lethal strangulation has become more common in domestic abuse cases in the United States over the last decade, but its seriousness has been historically minimized by the legal, law enforcement and medical communities since most victims survive, experts say.

But strangulation is ranked as more dangerous than other forms of physical abuse, and studies suggest that strangulation is often a predictor for homicide. Repeated strangulation can lead to other serious health problems, abuse experts say….

Many women have told Thomas that they saw stars or light before blacking out. She added that many people think once the strangulation stops and they can breathe again, they are not injured.

As little as 10 seconds of pressure on the carotid arteries in the neck is enough to deprive the brain of oxygen and cause someone to lose consciousness. If the pressure continues, brain death can occur in as quickly as five minutes, said the National Family Justice Center’s Strack.

But even if the pressure is released — and consciousness regained — the person may experience serious, potentially fatal, injuries. Swollen vocal cords can block breathing and lead to death hours or days later.

Repeated incidents of strangulation can cause permanent artery and blood vessel damage that can result in an increased risk of early stroke. Blocking the jugular veins prevents de-oxygenated blood from exiting the brain, increasing the risk of brain damage, which can be cumulative.

For more information, see the full article.