Non-fatal strangulation is a common and dangerous form of intimate partner violence and is a criminal offence in Aotearoa New Zealand
Strangulation/suffocation can cause damage to the neck and brain, similar to what happens after concussion, or being knocked out. Serious problems are rare, but can develop hours or even days after the injury occurred.
If this has happened to you, it is important that you seek immediate medical help.
Scroll down to see where to get medical help and further information and support
Strangulation (often confused with "choking") is when pressure is applied on or around the neck with enough force to reduce or stop breathing, or change the blood supply to and/or from the brain. This means that less oxygen is reaching the brain. Pressure can be applied in different ways - with one or two hands, or with something like a rope, or anything that puts pressure onto the throat. Suffocation is when breathing is reduced or stopped either by a) obstruction over the nose and mouth or b) compression on the chest or abdomen so that the lungs cannot expand and take in air. "Choking" is different as it refers to a blockage inside the throat which makes it hard to breathe.
What is the law change regarding Strangulation/Suffocation?
In 2018, a new offence of strangulation or suffocation came into force in Aotearoa New Zealand. This carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment (section 189A of the Crimes Act 1961).
Frequently Asked Questions
This information is NOT a substitution for seeking immediate medical help after being strangled
If after seeing a medical practitioner about being strangled you develop new bruises or swelling, or feel worried, see your family doctor (GP) for a check or contact the doctor that you saw initially (if different) - they may be able to give you advice over the phone.
The following mild problems usually get better without any treatment, but if they persist for 2 weeks, see your family doctor for advice:
trouble remembering things or concentrating for long periods
feeling tired, or easily annoyed
disrupted sleep patterns
bruises (small or pinpoint) on your face, neck and body
Strangulation injuries can have as big an impact on your psychological wellbeing as they can on your physical health. Seeing a counsellor can help provide you with support. Your GP, practice nurse, or the clinic that were assessed at initially, will be able to direct you to some local agencies who will be able to assist you.
DO check with your doctor or sports coach before playing sport again
Do NOT play any sport which could injure your head for at least 3 weeks
Strangulation/suffocation is very dangerous
Most people get better after a strangulation/suffocation injury, however sometimes longer term problems or injuries may result. It is important that you seek medical advice from a medical practitioner as soon as possible, and let them know you have been strangled/suffocated.
Where to get medical help
If you have been strangled/suffocated, go to your:
Family doctor (GP)
Local urgent medical care clinic
Or call an ambulance (dial 111) if you are experiencing any strangulation/suffocation injuries.
If you are in immediate danger call the Police (dial 111).
Where to get further information & support
If you are a victim of family violence or in a relationship that makes you fearful about your own or anyone else's safety, seek help as soon as possible. You have the right to be safe.