Adam Robertson – Mineral Independent – SUPERIOR – Residents, medical personnel and law enforcement officers gathered at the Mineral County Courthouse Tuesday for a presentation on how to identify strangulation as well as responding to sexual assault.

The event’s participants gathered in the County Commissioner’s meeting room at the Mineral County Courthouse. A small dinner was provided for people to enjoy during the two-hour presentation.

The first part of the evening was a discussion on sexual assault. Cat Otway, a registered nurse with First Step and the presenter, discussed the nature of rape and some of the statistics of sexual assault in the United States, especially around college campuses. She also discussed some of the myths and facts surrounding sexual assault as well as the people who commit them.

The second part of the presentation was all about recognizing signs of strangulation and the health risks associated with it. One of the big myths Otway noted, which jury members often fall victim to, was that strangulation always leaves a mark.

The presentations had some humor in them and a generally lighter air as one might assume from the content. Otway felt the lighter air made it easier to deal with a very emotional and difficult subject.

Mary Furlong, the event’s organizer, noted one of the big goals of the workshop was to raise awareness among the general public of the dangers of strangulation. She noted strokes were a possibility as well as other health risks, which raise the possibility of death from domestic abuse.
“Your lethality rate goes up something like 800 percent if there’s a strangulation involved,” she said.

It was also noted approximately 10 percent of violent deaths in the United States are attributed to strangulation.

“They had no idea how high the lethality rate was in strangulation injuries,” Otway said of a study out of San Diego. “Stroke being the most lethal side effect of a strangulation.”

As a result, one of the big messages they wanted to spread was for someone to seek medical attention if they have been strangled. The information is also good for first responders so they can ask about strangulation while treating a victim.

Otway felt it was important average people get more information about sexual assault and strangulation for when they serve on juries. It was noted many people will discount a person’s testimony of an event based on their misconceptions or the lack of visible injuries in evidence.

“In both date rape sexual assault and strangulation, there are myths that surround both of those crimes,” Otway said. “It’s going to help law enforcement investigate these crimes and hopefully lead, more importantly, to prosecution.”

Among the attendees were people from the Mineral County Health Department, nurses, the sheriff and representatives of the Mineral County Helpline.

Otway does similar presentations statewide. She is also an instructor at the police academy and gives the same types of presentations to the cadets. The information provided in the discussion was recently made part of the standard academy curriculum.

Otway noted anyone reporting having been strangled should be medically evaluated as soon as possible. One of the hopes of the presentation was to make give law enforcement and medical personnel the information they needed to recognize the signs and be able to react or treat accordingly.

To access the original article, please click here: Workshop Explains Hidden Dangers of Strangulation