FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office recently launched a pilot program that trains first responders and law enforcement officers to see the signs of strangulation.
The Office said one out of every four women will experience violence in their intimate relationships, and 10 percent of those have experienced near-fatal strangulation.
“Strangulation is one of the deadliest forms of abuse, but there is no data currently available regarding the frequency of strangulation in New Jersey. Anecdotal evidence points to an alarming number of these cases, but the more alarming statistic is that the odds of a homicide being committed after a strangulation incident increases by 750 percent,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
Strangulation is the fourth leading cause of homicide, behind guns, knives and blunt-force trauma. Out of the 12 million reported domestic violence cases reported annually, 1.5 million women report being strangled, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The pilot program, the first of its kind in the state, will train first responders and law enforcement members the lethality of strangulation, and how to look for signs that it has occurred. Many times, the victim shows no outward sign of having been injured.
“Many incidents of strangulation and choking go unreported because a victim can oftentimes rationalize that there are no visible signs of the assault and therefore no reason to report it, but studies show that only 50 percent of victims have visible external injuries. Of those victims, only 15 percent will present visible injuries that can be photographed and only 10 percent of victims will actually seek medical attention overall,” Gramiccioni said.
The State changed the law in 2017 to make strangulation a third-degree crime, not a disorderly persons offense.