What is Strangulation?

When a person knowingly or intentionally applies pressure to another person’s neck or throat to obstruct their airway or the circulation of blood flow, they are strangling someone. Strangulation and choking are often used interchangeably, however these are two different things. Chocking is when a foreign object becomes lodged in a person’s airway which restricts their breathing.

Facts About Strangulation:

If a person has been strangled and they survive their changes of homicide increase by 750% if they are strangled again. Strangulation is an escalation of domestic violence and can often be the last step before homicide. Intimate partner violence or domestic violence strangulation is very serious and should never be overlooked. Non-fatal strangulation can have permanent side effects on the victim. Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence.

Laws on Strangulation in Oklahoma:

There are many laws in place that deal with the punishment of those who have committed strangulation. Section 2718 amends Tile 18 of the Crimes Code which allows perpetrators to be charged with the crime of strangulation as a felony in domestic violence cases; even if there are no physical injures a person can still be charged. In Oklahoma the crime of strangulation falls under the statute for Domestic Violence and Battery, OKLH. STAT. tit. 21 § 644(J). This states that anyone who is convicted of the crime of strangulation can be punished by no less than one year’s imprisonment and up to three years and/or by a Three Thousand Dollar fine. For a second conviction of this violation the punishment can be imprisonment for no less than three years but not exceeding ten years and/or a fine for no more than Twenty Thousand Dollars. Laws on strangulation are different depending on which state a person is in.

What to do if it happens:

It is not uncommon for a person to not mention that they have been strangled when speaking to a hotline worker or an advocate. This can because the act did not leave physical marks. It is always vitally important to tell someone when you have been strangled. If you have been strangled and you can get away from the attacker, go to the hospital for an evaluation. Strangulation can have long lasting internal effects that need to be assessed by a medical professional. If it is not safe to go the hospital immediately after an attack try and see a doctor as soon as possible.

Signs and Symptoms of Strangulation:

There are many physical changes that can occur when a person is strangled; these can appear on the scalp, ears, mouth, neck, eyes and eyelids, face, and chest. Each one of these areas has distinct sings that need to be looked for if someone has been strangled.


  • Petechiae (tiny red spots)
  • Scratch marks
  • Facial drooping
  • Swelling


  • Petechiae
  • Bald spots (from hair being pulled)
  • Bumps on the head (from blunt force trauma or falling)


  • Ring in the ears
  • Petechiae on the earlobe(s)
  • Bruising behind the ear
  • Bleeding in the ear


  • Bruising
  • Swollen lounge
  • Swollen loops
  • Cuts/abrasions
  • Internal Petechiae


  • Redness
  • Scratch marks
  • Fingernail impressions
  • Brushing (thumb or fingerprints)
  • Swelling
  • Ligature Marks

Eyes & Eyelids:

  • Petechiae to eyeball
  • Petechiae to elide
  • Bloody red eyeball(s)
  • Vision changes
  • Droopy eyelid



  • Chest pain
  • Redness
  • Scratch marks
  • Bruising
  • Abrasions

Besides the outward physically signs and symptoms that strangulation can cause there are also many other things to be aware of:

Neurological issues:

  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of sensation
  • Extremity weakness
  • Difficultly speaking
  • Fainting
  • Unration
  • Defecation
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Although it might be uncomfortable to talk about urination and defecation are two of the most sever signs of strangulation. When a person urinates or defecates due to strangulation they are statistical a few second away from death. There can be changes to the voice and throat such as:

  • Raspy or horse through
  • Being unable to speak
  • Trouble spalling
  • Having an when swooning
  • Clearing the throat
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  • Sire throat
  • Stridor (a high-pitched whistling sound when taking a breath)

Lastly there are changes to ones breathing that can occur:

  • Diffusely berating
  • Repertory distress
  • Being unbale to breath



MYTH – Rape is provoked by the victim.  Women who are raped are asking for it.

FACT – A study conducted in Philadelphia by Dr. Menachem Amir (Patterns in Forcible Rape) indicated that 60-70% rapes are at least partially planned beforehand by the rapists. The study also shows that the victim is usually threatened with death or bodily harm if she resists. Why should a women go out of her way to be humiliated, beaten, or possibly killed? The problem with this myth is the way it takes away the criminal blame from the rapist and shifts the responsibility for the crime to the victim.


Although provocation may consist of only a “gesture,” according to the Federal Commission on Crimes of Violence only 4% of reported sexual assaults involved precipitative behavior on the part of the victim, and most of this provocation consisted of nothing more than walking or dressing in a way that is socially defined as attractive. No woman’s behavior or dress gives a man the right to rape her.
MYTH – Only young, beautiful women in seductive clothing are raped. It can’t happen to me. Only other types of women get raped. Only “bad” girls get raped.
FACT  – The victim of sexual assault is a victim of violence. Rapists choose their victim without regard to physical appearance. Victims are of every age, shape, race, and social class. The reported age range is six months to 90 years of age. Nearly one-half of rapes are committed in the victims’ homes.
MYTH – Sexual assault occurs only among strangers. If I avoid strangers, I will not be raped.
FACT – Although 51% of the rapes studied by Amir did occur among total strangers, 49% involved cases in which the victim and offender knew each other in some way. In 14% of the cases the rapist was a close friend, a relative, or a friend of the family. The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence reported that 53% of victims were total strangers to their attackers, 30% were slightly acquainted, 7% had a family relationship, and 3% were not related but had a previous close association. When considering these statistics, it is important to remember that they deal with REPORTED cases of forcible rape; a woman is more apt to report being raped by a stranger than by a friend or relative.


As a victim of the crime of domestic abuse, rape, or forcible sodomy, you have certain rights:

  1. To be notified that a court proceeding to which a victim or witness has been subpoenaed will or will not go on as scheduled, in order to save the person an unnecessary trip to court.
  2. The right to receive protection from any harm and threats of harm arising out of your cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution efforts, and to be provided with information as to the level of protection available and how to access protection;
  3. The right to be informed of financial assistance and other social services available as a result of being a witness or a crime victim, including information on how to apply for the assistance and services;
  4. To be informed of procedure to be followed in order to apply for and receive any witness fee to which the victim or witness is entitled;
  5. To be informed of the procedure to be followed in order to apply for and receive any restitution to which the victim is entitled;
  6. To be provided, whenever possible, a secure waiting area during court proceedings that does not require close proximity to defendants and families and friends of defendants;
  7. To have any stolen or other personal property expeditiously returned by law enforcement agencies when no longer needed as evidence.  If feasible, all such property, except weapons, currency, contraband, property subject to evidentiary analysis and property the ownership of which is disputed, shall be returned to the person;
  8. To be provided with appropriate employer intercession services to ensure that employers of victims and witnesses will cooperate with the criminal justice process in order to minimize an employee’s loss of pay and other benefits resulting from court appearances;
  9. To have the family members of all homicide victims afforded all of the services under this section, whether or not the person is to be a witness in any criminal proceedings;
  10. To be informed of any plea bargain negotiations;
  11. To have victim impact statements filed with the judgment and sentence;
  12. To be informed if a sentence is overturned, remanded for a new trial or otherwise modified by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals;
  13. To be informed that any sentence, including Life without Parole, may be commuted;
  14. To be informed in writing of all statutory rights;
  15. To be informed that when any family member is required to be a witness by a subpoena from the defense, there must be a showing that the witness can provide relevant testimony as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant before the witness may be excluded from the proceedings by invoking the rule to remove potential witnesses;
  16. To be notified by the Pardon & Parole Board of Pardon & Parole actions if you request notification;
  17.  To be informed in felony cases involving violent crime or sex offenses when pre-trial proceedings may substantially delay prosecution;
  18. In sexual assault cases, to protect the identity of the victim, test results of the offender will be made available to the victims designated physician or counseling site as made known to the victim witness coordinator by the victim or to the victim witness coordinator if the victim so desires within three days of completion of the examination or testing. If designation has been made, the victim witness coordinator shall notify the victim’s designated professional that the results are being forwarded and instruct the victim to set a time to receive the results in person.  If no designation has been made by the victim, the victim witness coordinator will notify the victim within three days of completion of the examination or testing and set-up a time to deliver the results in person.

Contact the District Attorney’s office for more information on any of the above services.  If you wish to be notified, they will need a written request from you so they can flag their file. Your request should contain the name of the defendant, case number and county where charges were filed, and your current mailing address and phone number or the mailing address and phone number of someone who can contact you.

Provided by the District Attorney’s Council