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Non-fatal strangulation: A critical step in combatting gender-based violence

The recent event, a crucial element of the 16 Days of Action against gender-based violence, was meticulously organised by one of an esteemed Hospital Advanced Practitioner (IDVA) at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Initiating on November 25th and culminating on December 10th, the 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence stands as an international campaign fostering global solidarity and action against various forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls. This campaign signifies a collective call to end the scourge of violence, encompassing a wide spectrum of atrocities such as rape, domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, exploitation, sexual harassment, and numerous other forms of exploitation including sex trafficking, forced marriage, and more.

Beginning on 7th June 2022, a significant legal shift unfolded concerning abusers who employ strangulation to induce fear or control over their partners. This transformative step was enacted under the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021, specifically categorising non-fatal strangulation as a criminal offence.

Non-fatal strangulation involves the deliberate obstruction of blood vessels or airways, restricting oxygen flow to the brain. Unfortunately, the absence of visible injuries often poses a challenge in prosecuting such cases under existing laws like Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), enabling perpetrators to evade legal consequences.

Studies explicitly highlight the severity of non-fatal strangulation. Victims subjected to this trauma face a staggering sevenfold increase in the likelihood of fatal outcomes, emphasising its profound correlation with lethal incidents.

This progressive legislation extends its jurisdiction to British nationals engaging in such offences overseas, ensuring accountability and justice regardless of geographical boundaries.

Alarming statistics suggest that over 20,000 victims of domestic abuse in the UK encounter strangulation yearly. Our Insights 2021-22 dataset highlights that 44% of our service users have undergone non-fatal strangulation, significantly amplifying the risk of fatality. Notably, homicide reviews reveal victims of non-fatal strangulation are seven times more likely to face fatal consequences later.

Understanding the severity of non-fatal strangulation is imperative in our collective efforts against gender-based violence.

Let us unite in raising awareness and extending support, ensuring confidentiality and privacy for all affected individuals.

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