Action Alert: Help Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides in Pennsylvania

We need you to take one minute to help hold domestic abusers accountable.

Strangulation is the single most accurate predictor of a future domestic violence homicide. In fact, one widely accepted study indicates that strangulation domestic-violence victims are 800% more likely to be killed by their intimate partner during a future assault.

Last year, 141 Pennsylvanians were killed by domestic violence.

Historically, strangulation has been difficult to prosecute. Sometimes victims don’t show visible injuries, though in many cases, their esophagus swells later and they suffocate to death. Experts also recognize that strangulation is a uniquely terrifying form of physical abuse and psychological control used by domestic abusers.

In the last ten years, in response to a growing awareness of strangulation as a predictor of preventable homicides, at least 35 states have passed statutes to enhance victim safety and offender accountability.

Rep. Becky Corbin (R-Chester) has introduced a similar bill (HB 1581) in Pennsylvania.

“When police or paramedics arrive and find a victim conscious and alert, it is sometimes assumed that the assault must not have been that serious. In reality, however, that individual may have been only seconds from death, nearly murdered,” Corbin recently told ABC News. “This bill would bring Pennsylvania law into line with those in 35 other states, recognizing the severity of this violent crime.”

HB 1581 would create the crime of felony strangulation defined as knowingly or intentionally impeding the breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure to the throat or neck, or blocking the nose and mouth of a person. It provides appropriate exceptions for medical procedures and athletic training.

The bill is scheduled for a vote in the state House of Representatives today. But there’s a problem: Opponents of the effort have added 30 amendments that essentially gut the bill. The bill needs to be passed without these amendments making it too weak to be effective.

One example of a bad amendment added to the bill is an exception in a scenario if two people mutually entered a fight in which choking or strangulation occurred. Not only does this amendment play into victim-blaming myths about domestic violence, obviously an abuser can easily lie about how the fight began to escape prosecution. Another example of a bad amendment is one that would require evidence of bodily injury, despite the fact that one reason this legislation is necessary is because a lack of physical evidence of injury is common.

What can you do?

PCADV is asking for Pennsylvanians concerned about domestic violence to contact their representative and ask them to support HB 1581 without amendments.

Click here now to support efforts to combat domestic violence by sending an email to your representative.





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