MISSOULA — Domestic violence is on the rise across the country as well as in Missoula where law enforcement is taking a closer look at the crime of strangulation with a new public service campaign.
It's been called the red flag of domestic violence that we don’t want to talk about -- but that’s changing. This week, Missoula law enforcement announced a new unified response to domestic abuse cases that involve strangulation—a response that starts with the first responders leading all the way to the prosecutor.
The Montana Legislature made strangling an intimate or domestic partner a felony crime in 2017.
A new PSA launched just this week explains why strangulation is such a serious crime as more doctors and law enforcement realize being strangled is different than being punched or hit -- it’s considered a precursor to murder. And it’s serious enough that it requires a different way of investigating and questioning a victim of domestic abuse.
Watch the public service announcement below:
“And part of the philosophy we have is a trauma-informed interview technique where we’re not going to be judgmental, we’re just going to get the facts. And so that way the victim can get the justice the victim deserves,” explained Missoula Police Chief Jaeson White.
“It’s so interesting that strangulation is so much more common than we realized -- but also so much more serious than we ever gave it credit for,” noted forensic nurse examiner Cat Otway.
“You always think it will get better and it’s like, I’ll never do that again. But then it just—I feel like once you just start letting it happen, it just escalates,” said strangulation survivor Danielle, whose last name we are not providing in order to protect her identity.
During the Friday 5:30 and 10:00 News, Jill Valley will take a look at the growing rate of domestic violence in Missoula -- and show you the number of strangulation investigations law enforcement has investigated over the past few years. We’ll also hear more from a strangulation survivor who talks about her experience with domestic violence.