Choking and Strangulation in the Context of Domestic Violence

Choking and strangulation is a particular form of physical assault carrying high risk of brain injury and death. Women are disproportionately the victims of choking and strangulation, with research indicating that lower-income, younger women have more frequently suffered this form of assault. In the context of domestic violence, the occurrence of choking and strangulation between partners is considered a high-risk predictor of lethality and femicide. The sex disparities in this crime are significant, with women most commonly victims, and their male partners perpetrators. Researchers have called this type of assault “exceedingly prevalent in women who are in an abusive relationship or with a prior history of intimate partner violence” (see below).


Despite the brutality and high risks associated with choking and strangulation, charges for committing this crime may be dismissed due to lack of corroboration or visible signs of injury. The member organizations of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, drawing from their first-hand experience of working with victims of choking and strangulation in the context of domestic violence, affirm the research in calling for:

  • Better coordinated responses by medical professionals, responders, police and criminal justice agencies, together with specialized training,


  • Effective prosecution strategies in dealing with this specific crime in the context of domestic violence.


Sources and Further Reading:

Jacob, Binu, Cullen, Nora, Haag, Halina Lin, Chan, Vincy, Stock, David, & Colantonio, Angela. (2020). Assault by strangulation: Sex differences in patient profile and subsequent readmissions. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 111(4), 492-501.


Pritchard, Adam J, Reckdenwald, Amy, & Nordham, Chelsea. (2017). Nonfatal Strangulation as Part of Domestic Violence: A Review of Research. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 18(4), 407-424.