Strangulation assault cannot be ignored

Strangulation assaults cannot be ignored

Editor:

We were deeply disappointed to see Gov. Tomblin’s veto of the strangulation assault bill in West Virginia. The governor’s staff clearly failed him and failed the people of West Virginia. Men who strangle women are some of the most dangerous men on the planet. If a man strangles a woman once with his hands, he is 800 percent more likely to later kill her than a man who assaults a woman but does not strangle her.

Recently, we documented that 50 percent of all police officers killed in the line of duty are killed by men who have previously strangled women. Unfortunately, the majority of near death strangulation assaults involve no external visible injury. Indeed, many victims murdered by strangulation assault have no external visible injury at all. Not until the autopsy are the injuries evident.

A victim strangled to unconsciousness suffers internal brain damage and often long-term health consequences but may have no external marks at all. This is why 39 states and the federal government have passed special felony statutes since 2007. Current West Virginia law is completely inadequate to address these near-fatal assaults. The governor’s veto means more women will die in West Virginia. It means more police officers will die at the hands of men who assault women and later kill police officers. We urge the governor to sign the bill the next time the Legislature, law enforcement, and domestic violence professionals bring it forward. His support for a felony strangulation assault law in West Virginia is a matter of life and death.

Casey Gwinn

President

National Family Justice Center Alliance

San Diego

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