Strangulation

Strangulation

If you or someone you know has experienced strangulation or has had their breathing cut off in any way for any length of time, please go to a hospital emergency room right away and ask for a CTA exam, even if the strangulation occurred in the past.  You can also speak to an advocate at the Family Safety Center today at 615-880-1100.

Strangulation is a very dangerous form of abuse that occurs when someone blocks off a person’s breathing by putting pressure on their neck or chest. An abuser can strangle or cut off your breathing in a number of different ways, including:

  • squeezing your neck with their hands
  • wrapping an item around your neck
  • pinning you against the wall by your neck
  • sitting on your chest
  • putting you in a headlock or chokehold
  • holding you underwater
  • covering your mouth and nose

Strangulation is so dangerous because of how quickly it can lead to health consequences that last days, weeks, or even months and because of how quickly it can lead to death.

Signs and Symptoms of Strangulation

If you or someone you know has experienced strangulation, even for just a few seconds, you might experience some of these side effects and symptoms:

  • small red or purple dots on your face, scalp, eyes, ears, or nose (this is called petechiae)
  • bumps on your head, a skull fracture, or a concussion
  • scratch marks, fingernail marks, ligature (linear) marks, or bruising on your face, neck, chest, shoulders, or under your chin (sometimes these can be self-inflicted from trying to fight off an abuser)
  • bloodshot eyes
  • bleeding from your ears or nose
  • bruising, cuts, or abrasions in or on your mouth or lips
  • swollen lips or swollen tongue
  • a cough that won’t go away
  • coughing up blood
  • losing consciousness or passing out
  • changes in your voice
  • difficulty speaking, swallowing, or breathing
  • a lump in your throat
  • muscle spasms in your neck or throat
  • swelling in your neck, throat, or tongue
  • increasing neck pain
  • weakness on one side of your body
  • numbness or tingling
  • drooping eyelid
  • difficulty understanding speech
  • difficulty walking
  • a headache that doesn’t go away even after you take pain medication
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • changes in your vision
  • burst blood vessels in your eye
  • seizures
  • memory loss or confusion
  • vomiting

However, injuries that you can see only show up 50% or HALF of the time. It’s very possible for you not to have any visible injuries after the strangulation. You may feel fine, but it’s very important that you see a doctor. Go to a hospital emergency room immediately and ask for a CTA exam if you have ever been choked or strangled.

Memory Loss

If you lost consciousness or passed out while being strangled, it is very common for you to have no memory of losing consciousness or to have no memory of being strangled at all. You might regain consciousness and not know how you got to where you are or you might only remember bits and pieces of the assault. For example, you might remember being in the kitchen and then suddenly wake up in your bed.  Not remembering an assault doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

 

If you or someone you know has experienced strangulation or has had their breathing cut off in any way for any length of time, please go to a hospital emergency room right away and ask for a CTA exam, even if the strangulation occurred in the past.

 

If you think that you are in an abusive relationship, look at our safety planning page for ways to increase your safety and our resources page for community support.