The Guilford County Family Justice Center wants to train as many professionals as possible to see the signs of strangulation, because it could save a victim’s life.

By Alma McCarty

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Triad law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for a Burlington man accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend, causing her to pass out.

Alamance County deputies responded to a domestic incident Friday, where the victim told them her ex-boyfriend, Gregory Wendell Newman, strangled her with his hands. Police say she was able to escape the home to call 911.

Detectives found that she had injuries consistent with her accusations – court documents revealed her throat was swollen, and her voice was raspy, after Newman allegedly took both hands and squeezed them around her throat.

It’s cases like this one, Sonya Desai with the Guilford County Family Justice Center says happen frequently – and that the act of strangulation is even more serious than people may realize.

“We know that strangulation, when it comes to domestic violence, is the last warning shot. That is the abuser saying, I can put my hands around your neck, and kill you,” she said, “You are literally cutting off somebody’s lifeline.”

The Center is pushing to train as many professionals as possible – district attorneys, officers, and medical providers – to see the signs, which can range from bruising to bleeding inside the eyes. Sometimes, she says, they’re not obvious, or don’t show up until a day later. Long-term effects of strangulation include stroke, seizure, or inability to talk.

Desai says training professionals to see the signs of strangulation is important because it carries a harsher sentence for the abuser, as opposed to a misdemeanor assault charge. It could even help save the victim’s life.

“I think there’s more awareness about strangulation, and what the research shows, is that strangulation is one of the deadliest forms of domestic violence,” Desai said, “[The abuser] is telling [the victim] that I can strangle you, I can kill you, I am sending you this message. So usually, not always, but at times, a murder could occur after that.”

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