While any form of domestic violence is serious, strangulation is an indicator of the likelihood of death for victims at the hands of an abuser.
Survivors previously strangled by their intimate partner are 800 times more likely to die by an offender’s attack, according to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.
Now, a special team is in place at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth to reduce the number of intimate partner homicides by strangulation in Tarrant County.
Strangulation is one of the most dangerous forms of violence but unlike other types of trauma, it’s difficult to detect. Less than 50% of strangulation victims suffer visible injury from the assault, making it easy to minimize or even overlook, according to Cindy Burnette, director of Texas Health’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program.
The new Strangulation Response Team, comprised of case workers from SafeHaven of Tarrant County’s High Risk Team, will respond 24/7 to hospitalized domestic violence victims identified as having experienced strangulation by their intimate partner.
SafeHaven President and CEO, Kathryn Jacob, LMSW, believes the new service provides a missing link between victims and life-saving SafeHaven resources.
“Our local fatality review team meets regularly to discuss the previous year’s domestic violence homicides, and the ones that stick out the most for me are the victims who did not know SafeHaven’s life-saving resources were there for them, local and free of charge,” Jacob said. “The Strangulation Response Team will meet the most high-risk victims where they are, and we are hopeful that in turn, intimate partner homicides will decrease in our county.”
The new program under the SafeHaven-managed Tarrant County Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) will provide information about those resources. Some of them include: case management, emergency shelter, counseling and legal assistance.
In 2016, Tarrant County saw its highest year on record at the time, with 16 domestic violence homicides, and SafeHaven implemented the county’s DVHRT the next year to combat this growing issue. Since then, with the exception of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the number has steadily dropped, and in 2021 Tarrant County saw just seven intimate partner homicides.
“Texas Health’s team of forensic nurses have received specialized strangulation training to assess and identify hard to detect injuries and then collaborate with our other medical professionals to provide the appropriate medical interventions,” Burnette said. “But beyond the immediate medical care, we know the importance of connecting victims to community resources available to help protect their physical and emotional health and safety. With SafeHaven providing face-to-face advocacy in real time, I believe victims will be much more open to accepting help to get in a safe place.”
Expansion of the program to other area hospitals is expected in the next few months, according to the non-profit.
Source: Annie Gimbel, CBS Texas. Click here to view original post.