Strangulation, abuse prevention workshops offered

An expert in strangulation in family violence is on P.E.I. this week speaking with doctors, nurses, police and other justice officials.

An expert in strangulation in family violence is on P.E.I. this week speaking with doctors, nurses, police and other justice officials.

"A lot of front-line workers: police, physicians, nurses, believe that they know all the signs of strangulation when in fact, for the most part, they know some of them, but not all of them," said Morag McLean, a VON nurse from Alberta who has studied abuse.

Those taking part in the seminars were taught to look for signs of choking and to ask very specific questions. McLean said strangulation hasn't been a focus of training for medical and justice professionals, and that means they can miss symptoms.

"So we are looking for things where people are having difficulties swallowing. They have a cough. They have difficulty breathing," said McLean.

"Then some symptoms in their neck where there may be some bleeding or perforation of the wind pipe because of the force of the strangulation."

Mclean said strangling is a commonly used weapon in family violence but victims often feel it's normal behavior and don't report it.

"When we do get people trained, they are identifying people are they are saving lives," she said.

The training will also benefit cases that end up in the courtroom.

"One of the issues that's being talked about here today is use the appropriate language when the victim is being strangled to indicate to the victim the seriousness that the level of abuse has reached," said Dave O'Brien, a crown attorney who took part in the training.

People who work in family violence on P.E.I. say strangulation is under reported.