By David Whisenant

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -There are new efforts to curb one of the most serious and deadly forms of domestic violence that many are hesitant to label as abuse.

Domestic violence advocates say if your partner is willing strangle or choke you, they’re just one step away from killing you.

That’s why health professionals in Mecklenburg County spent the day learning the signs of abuse that are not always visible.

In North Carolina last year 53 people died as the result of domestic violence. So far this year 49 people have died.

“The abuse started with name calling and then throwing of objects,” said Katherine Bryant, a survivor of domestic violence, “and finally I ran upstairs to where the children where and I ran into my son’s room and I said to my son, take your sister and go get help.”

What happened next to local elementary school principal Bryant nearly cost her her life.

“I proceeded to endure a two-hour beating. In the end he broke all my ribs, cracked my back, cracked my jaw, and the last thing I remember was him strangling me on top me and he said if I can’t have you no one else will,” Bryant added.

On Thursday in Charlotte community partners attended training put on by the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention. Strangulation is one of the most lethal and common forms of domestic violence. Unconsciousness can occur in seconds, death within minutes.

“I remember waking up at the hospital,” Bryant recalled. “You could see where my ex-husband’s hands were on my neck, clearly, and of course, the blood everywhere.”

Experts say those marks aren’t always visible. There can be delayed symptoms from strangulation. Katherine Bryant described it as four weeks of feeling like she had strep throat.

“I’ll never forget that night when he was on top of me and hurting me,” said Bryant.

Katherine got help and got out of her situation. Those in training learned how to provide that help by recognizing the signs of strangulation, making sure victims get medical help, and by learning to collect evidence that leads to prosecution and the hope that the victim won’t end up being someone that only be represented by a candle at a domestic violence event.

“He knew he was losing everything, and my personality is that I’m a fighter. I’m a fighter all the way, and the only reason I didn’t die is because of the grace of God…that is the reason,” Bryant added.

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