Gabby Petito died of suffocation. And although his story has opened up a world-wide debate about the abuse of others, experts hope the tragedy will highlight a major danger: It can be choked up in domestic violence.
Choking is defined as killing a person by squeezing the throat. But a growing number of domestic violence experts believe the term should be used liberally to work in situations where the situation is not fatal.
“If journalists properly use the term” suffocation, “they increase public awareness of the type of violence and acknowledge the serious short-term and long-term consequences of this type of violence,” said journalist Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Domestic Violence.
Damage to the human genome is far more widespread than most people do, experts say. A woman who has been abused in this way by her partner has a sevenfold chance of being killed by her partner, according to Dr Eve Valera, a professor at Harvard Medical School who examines intimate violence and brain damage.
“It’s one of the most shocking experiences that women often report in situations of relationship violence,” Valera said. “It’s really about power and domination.
Petito’s death was tried last month; on Tuesday, the coroner described the cause of death as suffocation. Vlogger video of her life on the street with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, attracted the attention of the world after she disappeared in late August in Wyoming.
Laundrie has since disappeared. Police and the FBI, citing previous reports of domestic violence while the two were traveling together, described him as “an interested person” in the case. He has not yet been charged in connection with his murder.
“Unfortunately this is just one of the many deaths pervading the world of people involved in domestic violence, and sadly these other deaths have not received as much opportunity as this one,” Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said Tuesday.
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While it is impossible to know for sure that Laundrie was involved in Petito’s murder, there were red flags about violence in the relationship, Valera said.
While the couple was in Utah, the Grand County sheriff’s office issued a 911 call on Aug. 12.
A body camera video showed Petito crying during a police stop on the side of the highway. Records show a police officer talking to Laundrie, who said the altercation had been building between the two for several days, but authorities at the scene took no action other than telling the couple to split up at night.
Experts in the field of relationship violence say there needs to be a greater awareness of the risks of stigma. Leigh Goodmark, a professor at the University of Maryland law school where she teaches Gender Violence Clinic, said one way to take this issue seriously is to distinguish between “suffocation” and “suffocation.”
Some victims of domestic violence may claim to have been “strangled” because they think the “strangling” should kill or involve something like a rope or other restraint, Valera said. This could lead to law enforcement and others in the jurisdiction taking the event lightly.
Chewing is what you do on food, said Goodmark. “Squeezing” in the context of domestic violence is when someone uses their hands, a part of the body or something to force another person’s way and control the flow of oxygen – deadly or not dead.
“When people say ‘suffocation,’ it reduces the amount of harm caused by suffocation and its commitment,” Goodmark said.
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In rare cases, choking can lead to a number of symptoms, including hoarseness, shortness of breath, memory loss, loss of consciousness, and even brain damage. Valera’s research has shown that brain damage in domestic violence is a common occurrence.
“There may be a lot of women who have experienced relapse, or marriage, but maybe brain damage from their spouses rather than professional athletes,” said Valera.
But the evidence of suffocation does not always appear; experts say that suffocation can even lead to death without leaving scars on the outside. That’s why a great education to prevent choking and intimate violence against boys is needed.
“It’s so damned that people don’t want to admit it,” said Valera, emphasizing the importance of making the community aware of the dangers.
Most people should realize that the only way to avoid being choked by an accomplice is a red flag for future killings, according to Goodmark.
“We need to focus more on prevention and education around what it means to experience constipation in relation to your future risk,” Goodmark said.
During the coronavirus epidemic, the immediate violence of others – and its severity – “went up,” Valera said. This means that the incidence of women strangled by their husbands has actually increased, Valera said. He said we should be scrutinizing each other, because intimate alliance violence can happen without anyone knowing.
“It’s always good to open this conversation, ‘I know that COVID has made things difficult and bad for many families and people. Do you feel safe in your relationship, is everything all right?” Valera said.