SB 0213/ HB 0248 establishes a 30-day minimum sentence for attempted strangulation or domestic assault involving strangulation. In addition, if the victim loses consciousness, the assailant could face a first-degree murder charge or attempted second-degree murder charge rather than aggravated assault.
“It’s not a red flag; it is practicing to kill,” said Metro Nashville Office of Family Safety’s Heather Herrmann about strangulation.
Herrmann said of the hundreds if not thousands of domestic violence victims they see every year, about 50% have been strangled.
“We hear, ‘It happens all the time. It happens almost every time we get into a fight, every time there’s a violent incident.’ We hear a lot of people say, ‘You know, my perpetrators have strangled me repeatedly, over and over and over until I lost consciousness.’ We hear a lot of people say, ‘You know, I’m not sure, I know that I passed out; I know that I soiled myself,’ which often happens with unconsciousness, ‘but I don’t remember what happened.’” she said.
She said she often sees people taking a narrow view of what strangulation is when Tennessee law’s definition is broader than choking with hands.
“If somebody has wrapped an arm around your neck, if somebody has yanked on a scarf, and it’s made it hard for you to breathe or cut off your breathing, you may not say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve been strangled,’ but, it has the same medical risks,” Herrmann explained.
She said the medical risks can be extensive and often hard to see.
“Strangulation can cause strokes; strangulation can cause miscarriages. It can cause brain damage if you lose consciousness,” she said.
The concerns regarding miscarriages and strangulations is why Herrmann and her colleagues are glad the new law also includes increased penalities for strangling a pregnant woman.
“We started noticing a pattern that in pregnancy, women were reporting being strangled to unconsciousness passing out, and worrying if the foul had harmed the unborn child,” she said.
According to Metro police, investigators saw around 75 strangulation cases three years ago. Last year, that number more than doubled to 215 and Herrmann said these crimes are often underreported.
However, she hopes that this new law will not only serve as a deterrent to potential assailants, but also as a tool to help victims heal.
“Being able to tell the victims…to point to a law and say, ‘This person, by our law, attempted to kill you,’ and help them really understand how serious and life-threatening that is,” she said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or you’re unsure whether your situation is domestic violence, please speak to an advocate at the Family Safety Center at 615-880-1100. To speak with someone on a 24-hour hotline, you can contact the YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-334-4628.
Source: Adam Mintzer, WKRN. Click here to view original post.