May 28, 2024

Strangulation correct

I am writing in response to the article “Police taser man choking his girlfriend” (BDN, Nov. 19).

As a friend and former investigator in Maine used to say when training law enforcement cadets, “You choke on a hamburger, you don’t choke on a pair of hands.” Excellent research was completed by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office some years ago, which has received national attention for highlighting how often strangulation occurs within intimate partner violence, and how the need for a higher level of accountability for this lethal act is overlooked when it is termed “choking” and considered a form of minor assault.

Strangulation is life-threatening behavior and those who use this tactic against their loved ones know the power it holds to silence and kill. One outcome of the research was to focus on full accountability for offenders in strangulation cases and to increase the focus on getting medical attention for individuals who had experienced it.

It is a learning curve for all of us to change language that we are familiar with using when someone puts their hands around someone else’s neck, but it is a change worth making because we are talking about heightened dangerousness and hopefully heightened accountability. The domestic violence projects, including Spruce Run in Penobscot County and New Hope For Women in Waldo County, are excellent resources for anyone experiencing any kind of abuse or interested in learning more about helping someone who is facing this kind of mistreatment. You can reach the domestic violence project nearest you by calling 1-866-83-4HELP.

Kate Faragher Houghton


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