It took courage and compassion for paramedic Paula Walters to launch her campaign to educate the public about a particular aspect of domestic violence: strangulation.
Ms. Walters, 44, has made a crusade of publicizing the poorly understood violence of strangulation, or suffocation.
She also is campaigning to make nonfatal strangulation a felony. Ohio is one of 13 states without such a law.
Strangulation is a predictor of greater violence to come. Many domestic-violence homicide victims were previously subjected to attempted strangulation.
And, according to Ms. Walters, there is a pattern of mass shooters having committed strangulation.
Ms. Walters accused her former boyfriend, Bryan Jameson, of attempting to strangle her in 2006 when he became enraged over his belief that Ms. Walters was cheating on him.
It took a long time for doctors to recognize how injured she was. Ms. Walters has been diagnosed with a moderate traumatic brain injury. She passes out if she turns her neck a certain way as scar tissue presses on her carotid artery. She has trouble hearing certain sounds. Her memory is poor.
Mr. Jameson was indicted for felonious assault, but that charge was reduced to attempted aggravated menacing, a misdemeanor, which allowed him to still carry a gun. Now Mr. Jameson is charged in an unrelated case with abduction, with a gun specification, in Hancock County Common Pleas Court. He is accused of holding a youth at gunpoint at a campground near Bluffton over Memorial Day weekend, officials said.
Ms. Walters is now helping victims of domestic violence and first responders learn more about strangulation, which is the obstruction of blood vessels or airflow in the neck, resulting in asphyxia. Brain cell death from choking is rapid and can be fatal, according to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.
She founded Standing Courageous, a non-profit agency that provides comprehensive training to police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other officials. The organization serves 16 counties in northwest Ohio. A presentation was given to registered nurses recently through Mercy Health Toledo.
A bill known as Monica’s Law introduced by state Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R., Hilliard), would make it a felony to cause or attempt to cause physical harm by means of strangulation. According to the strangulation institute, women who have been subjected to attempted strangulation by their partners are 750 percent more likely to be murdered than women who have not.
Ms. Walters makes a persuasive case that Ohio’s felonious assault law should be amended to make strangulation as serious a crime as use of a weapon in harming someone. It would recognize the harm done to domestic violence victims, and it would create another felony by which dangerous people could be prohibited from owning guns.
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