A Deadly Hold: It does happen in Franklin County

4 mins read

Author/Task Force Member: Maggy Ackerman

Strangulation during intimate partner relationships is an alarming issue which is being recognized at a national level. In recent years many states, including Maine, have begun prosecuting strangulation as a felony level crime due to significant linkages between strangulation and death in domestic violence situations.

In the month of September alone, 30 percent of the survivors who worked with the Safe Voices’ Franklin County advocate disclosed having been “choked” by their partner within the last month. This number is disheartening for our county because according to the Strangulation Institute, once an individual has been strangled by their partner, they are 7 times more likely to be killed by that partner. Strangulation is often referred to as “being choked,” but it is important to note that strangulation refers to external pressure on the throat which restricts blood flow to the brain thus preventing oxygen from reaching the brain, while choking refers to an internal obstruction of air in the throat. Lack of oxygen to the brain can cause life threatening injuries such as stroke or neurological damage, and even death. Signs and symptoms are easily undetected by both the survivor and medical professionals.

Some of the symptoms which may indicate that someone has been strangled include: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, bloodshot eyes, petechiae, memory loss, urination, difficulty breathing, seizures, and blurry vision. Lack of oxygen can cause a loss of consciousness and loss of memory, which may result in a survivor not being able to recall they have been strangled. So, if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Despite recent awareness efforts around the legality and danger of strangulation, the act is still widely underreported and the severity minimized by victims and responders. It is imperative that as a community we spread awareness around the dangers of strangulation in intimate partner relationships.

Safe Voices is the local domestic violence resource center that supports those affected by domestic violence and works to create social change in our communities. Franklin County houses both an advocate who supports survivors, and a community educator who works to spread awareness and prevention of domestic violence in Franklin County. In addition, Safe Voices offers a High Risk Response Coordinator who focuses on cases which have highly lethal factors such as strangulation, stalking, trafficking, and use of weapons. Both the Franklin County advocate and the High Risk Response Coordinator can work with survivors, law enforcement, and service provides to create a safety plan, connect them with local resources, court advocacy, and safe emergency housing. All of these services are offered at any of our locations in Lewiston, Norway, Rumford and Farmington. To receive more information around strangulation or domestic violence, to schedule a training on strangulation awareness and response, or to speak with an advocate please call:

Farmington: 778-6107
Lewiston: 795-6744
Norway: 743-5806
Rumford: 369-0750
Or call our 24/7 confidential Helpine: 1-800-559-2927

The Franklin County Domestic Violence Task Force is a coalition of agencies and concerned citizens with a mission to lead and empower local people to end domestic violence. For more information about this article or the FCDVTF, please contact Hillary Hooke at (207)778-6297 or email hhooke@safevoices.org.

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