02 October 2018

A health response to non-lethal strangulation in domestic and family violence: Literature review

This paper examined the research evidence on non-lethal strangulation in domestic and family violence (DFV) and health responses to this behaviour. The evidence shows a broad, international consensus that the occurrence of non-lethal strangulation in DFV situations is a serious act of violence, that it can cause serious psychological and physical harm without any obvious signs on the body, is an indication of increasing severity of DFV, and is a significant risk factor for future homicide. Subsequent to consideration of the evidence, the Department of Health devised a range of responses when dealing these cases.  First, the development and distribution of a fact sheet that provides first responders and emergency department staff with clear and concise information regarding the incidence, symptoms and risks of non-lethal strangulation in DFV. Second, it recommends that first responders and medical staff ask victims of DFV about their experiences of non-lethal strangulation and tailor clinical assessment and treatment accordingly. Third, it reinforces the importance of clinical documentation. Fourth, supporting the health workforce to access training to increase their knowledge and skills in identifying and responding to cases of non-lethal strangulation in DFV. And finally, supporting participation in research opportunities that can make valuable contributions to the body of knowledge in Queensland.