1.2In the past decade, there has been a rapid growth internationally in understanding the role played by strangulation in family violence. It is now known to be very common, particularly between intimate partners. The harm caused by strangulation ranges from struggling to breathe, to loss of consciousness, to death. The psychological impact on victims can be devastating. It is often said that, while the abuser may not be intending to kill, he is demonstrating that he can kill. It is unsurprising that strangulation is a uniquely effective form of intimidation, coercion and control.
1.4It is principally this second factor (combined with an increased understanding of the first) that has led many other jurisdictions to conclude that their criminal justice systems were failing adequately to prosecute and hold perpetrators accountable. Typically, strangulation was either not being prosecuted at all or it was being charged as a minor violent offence, as if equivalent to a push or shove. This prompted those jurisdictions, particularly in the United States and Australia, to enact specific offences with higher maximum penalties than the offences tended to be prosecuted as previously, and with elements of proof tailored to the harms and intentions characteristic of strangulation. In addition to better holding perpetrators accountable, these new offences are seen as a way to highlight the dangerousness of strangulation in family violence circumstances.