Domestic Violence, Non-State Torture and Strangulation

Domestic Violence, Non-State Torture and Strangulation
By Jeanne Sarson & Linda MacDonald

We support work that exposes strangulation violence. Here is Lynne’s story. It took her two years to tell. For decades all social clues indicated no one would believe her that she was held captive, non-State tortured, and sold/trafficked/prostituted by her husband and three male friends in Canada for 4 ½ years before escaping. She asked repeatedly that we share her story in the hopes society would change and other women would be believed.

LYNNE’S STORY: I was called bitch, slut, whore and “piece of meat.” Stripped naked and raped—“broken in”—by three goons who, along with my husband, held me captive in a windowless room handcuffed to a radiator. Their laughter humiliated me as they tied me down spread-eagled for the men they sold my body to. Raped and tortured, their penises and semen suffocated me. I was strangled and also choked. I almost drowned when they held me underwater threatening to electrocute me in the tub. Pliers were used to twist my nipples, I was whipped with the looped wires of clothes hangers, ropes and electric cords; I was drugged, pulled around by my hair and forced to cut myself with razor blades for men’s sadistic pleasure. Guns threatened my life as they played Russian roulette with me. Starved, beaten with a baseball bat, kicked, and left cold and dirty, I suffered five pregnancies and violent beatings forced abortions. They beat the soles of my feet and when I tried to rub the pain away they beat me more. My husband enjoyed sodomizing me with a Hermit 827 wine bottle causing me to hemorrhage and I saw my blood everywhere when I was gang raped with a knife. Every time his torturing created terror in my eyes, he’d say, “Look at me bitch; I like to see the terror in your eyes.” I never stopped fearing I was going to die. I escaped or maybe they let me escape thinking I’d die a Jane Doe on that cold November night.

Lynne described being strangled when her husband-to-be pulled a gold chain she wore tightly around her neck. When in captivity the torture strangulation tactic was to press down on her windpipe cutting off her breathing. Lynne said she asked her-Self many times “Will I die now?”

Physical intimate partner violence can include being painfully and dangerously choked or strangled. By definition, choking involves an internal blockage of a person’s windpipe; strangulation is caused by an external obstruction of a person’s breathing or blood circulation.i Non-fatal strangulation by an intimate partner is a risk factor for femicidal homicide of women choked or strangled. Lynne suffered both strangulation and choking.

The Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention in California Strangulation Infographic addresses intimate partner strangulation risks, ii which are applicable to Lynne ordeals of non-State torture. The Strangulation Infographic says:
1. That 68% of 1 in 4 women who suffer intimate partner violence will experience near-fatal strangulation by their partner;
2. Women will lose consciousness within 5 – 10 seconds and death can occur within minutes;
3. That 97 % of women are strangled manually by their partner using their hands; 38% of the women report losing consciousness, and 70% believed they were going to die;
4. The chance they will be killed—that femicide will occur—increases 750 percent when strangulation is a pattern of a violent partner; when women are killed only ½ of the murdered women’s bodies will reveal their visible injuries;
5. Sexualized assault or abuse and strangulation occur together at a rate of 35% and the research suggests that 9% of the women also report being strangled when pregnant.

i Schwartz-Wallace, A. (2010). Strangulation and domestic violence. Empire Justice Centre. Retrieved from http://www.empirejustice.org/issue-areas/domesticviolence/case-laws-statues/criminal/strangulation-and-domestic.html [accessed January 23, 2017].
ii Training Institute of Strangulation Prevention. (n.d.). Strangulation infographic. San Diego, CA: Alliance of HOPE International. Retrieved from https://www.strangulationtraininginstitute.com/resources/library/strangulation-information-graphic/ [Accessed January 1, 2018]

Linda MacDonald, MEd, BN, RN and Jeanne Sarson, MEd, BScN, RN Persons Against Non-State Torture (NST) www.nonstatetorture.org | contact@nonstatetorture.org
 361 Prince Street, Truro, NS, Canada B2N 1E4 (902) 895-6659 | Cell (902) 956-2117
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