When both medical staff and law enforcement are trained in non-fatal strangulation issues, those affected by abuse can have better outcomes. There are several benefits in both the clinical and legal aspects of training people who handle such cases.
Better Triage And Care
One aspect of training medical staff in the acute and long-term aspects of non-fatal strangulation is better triage of cases and reducing long-term issues that arise in such cases. For example, not every person who is a victim of strangulation is cooperative. They may be unconscious when they arrive at the hospital or refuse to reveal information about their attack. Training in non-fatal strangulation entails looking for key signs consistent with strangulation and the realization that not every related injury appears immediately. Bruising around the neck that is frequently found in strangulation cases may not appear for hours or days after the incident. Medical staff can also better check for internal injuries in the neck if they believe a person was strangled.
Improved Legal Outcomes
Not only is the victim's cooperation important for prosecution and conviction of an assailant, but evidence collected in the hours and days after the strangulation is critical. When law enforcement is properly trained in non-fatal strangulation identification they can build a better case against a defendant, and in some cases, help piece together who the defendant might be in cases of repeat offenders. For example, an unknown attacker might be identified or several cases might be connected based on clues such as the use of ligatures, whether the attacker strangled victims from behind, or other similarities between cases.
Easier Identification Of Those At-Risk
Intimate partner violence is often the hardest case to identify and prosecute, often because the victim is too afraid or emotionally attached to their abuser to admit any wrongdoing by their partner. Since many of the victims in these instances may show up at the hospital with injuries, but do not admit to strangulation by their partner, clues regarding strangulation can be critical in identifying victims at risk for future incidences of intimate partner violence or death. When law enforcement and/or medical staff notice small details consistent with strangulation, they can attempt to intervene by providing resources to the victim. These resources might include a social worker who can offer counseling and a safe environment to help the victim get out of a dangerous situation.
Training in non-fatal strangulation for law enforcement and medical staff is critical for improving outcomes when violence occurs. Better training can translate into improved acute and long-term care and identification of those who have inflicted injures upon the victim.
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