Though you may be unfamiliar with the term, intimate partner violence is a major issue in the U.S. and around the world. Intimate partner violence can result in serious physical harm to the victim, and when strangulation is involved, it is often fatal.

Intimate partner violence often involves strangulation.  When it does, it can be fatal.
Intimate partner violence often involves strangulation. When it does, it can be fatal.

Intimate partner violence is any form of physical aggression, nonconsensual sex, or psychological harm inflicted on an individual by a romantic partner. It is important to distinguish between intimate partner violence and rough sex that is consensual. Intimate partner violence can involve the following:

  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Burning
  • Non-fatal strangulation
  • Assault with an object or weapon

Intimate partner violence also has serious emotional consequences, which can include:

  • Self-esteem issues
  • Sleep dysfunction
  • Anxiety

The most dangerous form of intimate partner violence is that which involves strangulation during sex. This refers to the application of pressure to the neck and restricts the flow of oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. This is also known as asphyxiation. In this scenario, the perpetrator has the power to end a victim’s life and from this comes a sense of control. Researchers suggest that it is this need for domination on the part of the aggressor that underlies most episodes of intimate partner violence and of strangulation in particular.

What Happens During Strangulation?

During sex, your partner uses his hands, or a rope, scarf, belt, or similar object on the victim’s neck. This has been shown to increase the risk of stroke and other brain injuries, even when the victim doesn’t lose consciousness. Depending on the duration of oxygen restriction, the victim may lose consciousness, and in more severe cases death can occur.

Symptoms of Strangulation

  • Hoarseness or complete loss of voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing problems
  • Coughing
  • Impaired or total loss of vision
  • Behavioral changes (impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, post-traumatic stress disorder) 
  • Loss of hearing
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Loss of physical strength

How to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence

  • Be vigilant in identifying violent & non-violent strangulation during sex
  • Seek medical attention if you have any of the symptoms listed above
  • Set healthy boundaries with your sex partner
  • If your partner becomes violent, speak to a counselor for further guidance

The dangers of intimate partner violence and strangulation are often overlooked, but statistics prove that this is a serious issue affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25% of women and 10% of men in the U.S. have experienced intimate partner violence. Each minute, 24 people are victims of intimate partner violence.

Experts say that strangulation has become more prevalent in recent years due to its increased promotion in pornography videos. More and more young people are watching porn and one study showed that 13% of sexually active girls between the ages of 14 and 17 had been choked during sex.

This is obviously terrifying and, unfortunately, the issue doesn’t get the attention it deserves. By creating more awareness of intimate partner violence, we can reduce its occurrence. This will require a multi-pronged societal approach that includes education beginning at an early age, support programs for couples, better parenting, legal reform, and more resources for victims.