“Victims who survive a strangulation assault frequently describe it as a near-death experience,” says Jan Christiansen, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “It’s an abuser’s way of letting a victim know, ‘I could kill you if I wanted to.’ It’s a powerful way of making a victim feel trapped.” According to a recent survey, over 44 percent of victims served by Georgia’s state-certified domestic violence programs have been strangled. This statistic is particularly alarming in light of research showing that victims of prior attempted strangulation are eight times more likely to be killed by
the same abuser. Georgia currently ranks 12th worst in the nation for the rate of women killed by men, according to the Violence Policy Center.

According to Greg Loughlin, Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, the public needs to be educated about strangulation. “Making strangulation assault a felony will save lives in Georgia,” says Loughlin. “We also want to raise public awareness about the dangers of strangulation and how to help, including the signs to alert you to advise immediate medical attention. When a person puts their hands around someone’s neck, only bad things can happen.”

Christiansen also urges victims of strangulation or other violence at the hands of an intimate partner to contact Georgia’s 24-hour statewide domestic violence hotline at 1-800-334-2836 to talk to an advocate at one of Georgia’s 46 state-certified domestic violence programs about how they can plan for their safety and to learn about services in their community.

House Bill 911 was sponsored by Representatives Mandi Ballinger, Rich Golick, Mary Margaret Oliver, B.J. Pak, Regina Quick, and Alan Powell. It was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Mike Dugan. The bill was supported by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Georgia Association of Solicitors-General, District Attorneys’ Association of Georgia, and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. HB 911 can be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HB/911.