The Dangers of Strangulation

This post was contributed by Heather, a Hotline advocate

strangulationAt The Hotline, we often speak with people who don’t think they are being abused because they aren’t being hit, aren’t being hit with a closed fist or aren’t being physically abused on a regular or daily basis. While abuse can include frequent, violent attacks, abuse can also include monitoring your phone, restricting access to finances, controlling who you spend time with and many other behaviors that aren’t physical at all. However, one of the most serious and deadly forms of abuse is physical, but many survivors are still hesitant to label strangulation or “choking” as abusive.

The information in this article is not meant to scare you, but you deserve to know the facts so you can make the best plan to keep yourself safe. If your partner has ever put their hands around your neck, put you in a “sleeper hold” or used anything else to strangle you like a scarf, necklace, belt, rope, etc. keep reading.

Because strangulation can be very serious and symptoms of brain damage can take hours, days or even weeks to develop, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you have:

  • a 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
  • a seizure
  • a 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

It’s possible to experience strangulation and show no symptoms at first but die weeks later because of brain damage due to lack of oxygen and other internal injuries. For this reason, and for a safe way to document the abuse, we strongly recommend you consider seeing a doctor if your partner has strangled or choked you. Also know that you always have the right to file a police report, press charges for an assault or seek a restraining order against someone who is choosing to be abusive towards you.

Facts You Deserve To Know:

Filling out the lethality assessment, especially with an advocate at your local domestic violence agency, can help you learn more about your personal risk from your partner. This survivor’s story talks about how long-term memories can be affected by traumatic brain injuries caused by strangulation and concussion. We know that the details of abuse can get fuzzy, sometimes from gaslighting or from the abuse itself, so if it’s safe to do so we recommend documenting as much of the abuse you’re experiencing as possible. If you need to call the doctor, The Hotline or your local domestic violence agency but making calls is dangerous for you, here are some helpful tips that might work for you.

To find a domestic violence agency near you, or for help making a plan to stay safe, please call our advocates 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or chat with us from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time.

10 replies
  1. Jenna says:

    i have been with my husband for over 20 years, we have 3 children in which 2 have now moved out. i have been in an abusive marriage for all the years of my marriage. i have left about 3 times but someone he still manages to get me back. one of the things he has done many times was put his hands around my neck. i have told him that what he is doing to me is wrong but he just doesn’t care. i want to leave but so afraid to go. i have no family here so no where to go. i have no friends really because he doesn’t even like for me to talk to other people. i feel so isolated and alone and don’t know where to turn. i want to get away because i’m afaid that one of these days he is going to do some serious damage to me. so where do i even start?

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Jenna,

      Thanks for sharing your story here. We’re very concerned about your husband’s behavior, and we’d like to help you find a place to start. Whenever you feel safe enough to do so, please call us at 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) or chat with us here on the website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time.

      Reply
  2. Nicole Garcia-Harvey says:

    Thank you for posting this important information. This form of abuse is constantly overlooked by authority figures, and if it documented it goes onto to be shrugged off. Strangulation can have serious medical consequences, however, I feel many people do not take this action seriously. Perhaps, this is because we don’t hear about strangulation daily as we do gun violence, but this crime needs to be finally classified as a Felony. In doing so, it would be a step forward in helping establish and enforcing laws that would hopefully protect past, present, and future victims of abuse.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hello Nicole,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We agree that strangulation should be taken very seriously. We appreciate you being a part of our online community and speaking out for survivors!

      Reply
  3. Norm says:

    I was chocked by my wife about 3 weeks ago, or as my support person tells me my wife tried to kill me. I find this hard to except this, still working on it. I love her deeply and we have two wonderful children. I have felt so much guilt that I did something wrong. Our friends have all side with her and I am being reminded every day that I was the “bad” person and caused it. I find it difficult to talk about as so much of the community think this sort of thing only happens to women and the majority of victims are women. My wife is much smaller than me and most people believe her as I am much larger than her. My support person is helping me deal with the mix bag of feelings I carry with me everyday and I am finding it difficult to grasp that it’s not my fault. There is no reason for another person who claims they love you to physically hurt you or verbally abuse you but for some reason my heart keeps getting in the way and makes excuses for her actions.

    I always wondered why women who were abused physically stayed with the abusive man. Now I question myself everyday why I feel so guilty for something that was perpetrated by my wife. It’s not easy to understand the feelings as they change from loving to hating to loving so quickly. My support person is helping me understand and come to grips with what happen. But the hardest thing for me is I know I am acting like the women I used to wounder why they stayed in the relationship. My wife was arrested for Domestic Violence and reminds me when she gets the chance that she was the one who went to jail and how bad it was.

    I hope that my support person can help me understand and come to grips with this. I also hope that if you find yourself in this situation, get out! Get professional help and stay safe! I have a completely different view on this topic now and really feel for those in situations like mine.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_LC says:

      Hi Norm,

      Thank you for sharing your story with our online community. Experiencing abuse from someone you care about is incredibly painful and something you could never deserve. Regardless of what your wife or anyone else says, there is nothing that could ever make your wife’s violence your fault. Your gender and your size doesn’t make you immune to abuse. Abuse is something that crosses all gender lines and you deserve to have support. This is a very overwhelming thing to navigate and you do not have to do it alone. I am glad to hear that you have a support person to lean on. Another option would be reaching out to a local domestic abuse organization. If you would like to explore your options and get connected to your local resources, we are always here to chat. You can reach us 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and we are on chat everyday from 7am to 2am CST. I also want to let you know about our page on male survivors of abuse at this link.

      Take Care,

      Advocate LC

      Reply
  4. Michelle says:

    I survived strangulation three times in less then a month time. Thankful I was rescued and now I am working on things that will keep me permanently safe. Reading this article really touched a spot in my life that is still fresh and this form abuse along with the gas lighting is pretty serious. I have experienced all forms of abuse with the abuser and this was the last assault that I suffered. I am taking my case very serious and reading this article has put me on the edge of my seat. I now know how serious this is and it won’t go cause he may not stop unless I go to to the biggest forms of protecting my safety. Thank you for the article and letting me share my experiences with you. I pray foe everyones safety from domestic violence and I f you got away I pray for you safety as well. Bless you.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_LC says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with our online community. Abuse is something that you never deserved and you have a right to protect yourself from. Leaving tends to be the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship which makes your physical and emotional safety a priority. I want to let you know about our safety planning page at this link. If you would like talk about what you are going through and develop a safety plan with an advocate, we are always here. We are reachable 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and reachable everyday from 7am to 2am CST.

      Take care

      Advocate LC

      Reply
  5. Cha says:

    Thank you for posting this. I was attacked a couple of days ago and was choked- the person who did this ran away from his home to avoid questioning by the police. When I called 911, the operator tried asking me questions and I couldn’t answer them, all I could do was say I didn’t know and I need help. When the police arrived, the officer did ask if I had any injuries and at the time I know I said I had been choked, but they couldn’t see anything. This person was not arrested, and so far the police have not followed up with either myself or the abuser. I am concerned he is free after what he has done. I have documented the injuries and have photos.
    Since the incident, I have been having some of the issues you have posted – the sore throat, difficulty swallowing and some neck pain. I was on the fence about going to the doctor, but now I know I need to follow up. Again thank you, for posting this.
    I have a couple of questions I hope you can answer- In these incidences, is it best to go to your doctor if you have one?
    And what should I tell the doctor’s office when I call and/or see the doctor? One of the reasons I feel a little hesitant is explaining that it is a dv incident and I do not know if it will get documented correctly? I do not have insurance at the moment, so I am unsure of how much it will cost.
    Thank you again- Cha

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_LC says:

      Hi Cha,

      Thank you for reaching. What you have survived is something that is very traumatic. Regardless of what your abusive ex may have said, the abuse was never your fault and something you couldn’t have caused. He made a choice to be abusive and to choke you and he is the only one to blame for that choice and any consequences that come from it. You have a right to be safe and build a life free of abuse. I want to let you know about a page at this link on documenting abuse. Having a doctors report can serve as evidence of abuse but each state and doctor may document it in different ways. If you are concerned about how that doctor will document it and the cost, you always have the option of calling ahead of time and asking those questions. If cost is a factor, there may be an affordable clinic in your area. 211.org is a hotline that can help you locate your local resources. If you would like to reach out to an advocate to talk about the situation in more depth, we are here 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and they are reachable everyday on chat from 7am to 2am CST.

      Take care,

      Advocate LC

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Please feel free to add your comments, but be aware that this blog is a public space. Your email address is required to comment but will not be public or shared. Please note that entering a website address in the comment form will create a link to the sites URL. We reserve the right to remove comments that do not abide by our community guidelines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *