Domestic violence: Strangulation can prove fatal months after attack, studies show

DOMESTIC violence campaigners are calling on victims of strangulation to seek urgent medical attention after discovering research that suggests victims can die months later.

The State Government recently obtained studies that suggest victims are susceptible to blood clots and an increased risk of stroke leading to death.

Health Minister Cameron Dick is reviewing the information and said it could pave the way for new measures to determine how domestic violence victims are assessed at the scene.

The research was brought to Mr Dick’s attention by Red Rose Foundation chief executive Betty Taylor during a meeting late last month.

Health Minister Cameron Dick.
Health Minister Cameron Dick.

“I asked Queensland Health to review research into health responses to non-fatal strangulation,” Mr Dick said.

“The Department of Health is currently reviewing national and international studies, including a research paper provided by Ms Taylor.

“Following this review, the Department will continue to work closely with clinicians, including those in the Queensland Ambulance Service, to determine if further resources need to be developed.”

Ms Taylor said it was critical for victims to speak up. She said other risk factors for victims could include high blood pressure and collapsed lungs.

“(Victims) certainly need to be seeking medical assistance,” Ms Taylor said. “They need to get it documented. The more it happens the greater the risk.”

A Brisbane magistrate this week told an offender in the Brisbane Magistrates Arrest Court: “If you grab your partner’s throat, she’s eight times more like to die at your hands”.

Internal injuries associated with strangulation can often be missed during an initial assessment of a victim, according to the Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal.

One assessment of 134 strangulation survivors referenced in the medical journal, said victims could experience traumatic brain injuries during strangulation that were not identified until weeks later.

DV Connect chief executive Di Mangan urged victims of strangulation to leave their partners immediately.

“Strangulation is something the women’s (call) line deals with everyday,” she said. “We know it’s one of the top indicators in domestic homicides.”

There have been 16,303 domestic violence-related offences in the past 16 months.

Domestic violence victims can call DV Connect on 1800 811 811

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