Astonishing number of men choking women
HALF of all women who called a 24-hour helpline to report domestic violence say they were strangled or choked by their partner.
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre chief executive Annette Gillespie said that more than 50 per cent of calls were about choking.
The shocking revelation comes as Victoria considers implementing mandatory minimum sentences for people who think they can get away with it because it rarely leaves a mark.
Queensland has already introduced chocking under a domestic violence setting as a specific crime as part of wide-sweeping reforms designed to reduce domestic violence across the state.
Victorian woman Ashlee, who did not want her surname published, is backing the proposed law change.
She said her ex-partner choked her and was given a 22-month sentence that she deemed a "joke".
"Everyday I suffer with memory loss and other injuries that I will live with for the rest of my life. I really hope we can start to see a change," Ashlee told reporters on Sunday.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy has pledged to amend the Crimes Act to make non-fatal strangulation, choking and suffocation of a family member punishable by up to a decade in jail, if elected to power on November 24.
"For those offenders who believe that somehow they can choke or strangle their partner and get away with it, will get away with it no more," Mr Guy told reporters outside Parliament.
"We believe in Victoria we must do the same … to make sure there is a punishment that fits the crime."
Victoria is following Queensland's lead. The government upgraded sentencing for strangulation to a maximum seven years in jail.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
The West Australian government is also considering introducing specific laws against strangulation.
Carol, a Perth woman who did not want her surname published, said she was the victim of about a dozen strangulations. She told ABC News the one attack left her with a blood clot in her neck.
"At the time you don't know whether it's going to be your last breath or not," she said. "You feel like you're dying.
"To have you on the brink of death, they have full control over you, and so the next time you don't know if they're going to let go. So you do as you're told."
Queensland woman Jacque Lachmund told her story in May. She said she had to pretend she passed out to get her attacker to stop.
"Your survival instinct kicks in and you do whatever you need to do to make it stop," she said.
"Emotionally and mentally, it's those feelings of fear that really turn into a question of whether you are going to live or die."
Ms Gillespie said women who are choked by a partner are eight times more likely to experience serious harm or death.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
Victoria's shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto said the proposed laws would send a clear message to would-be offenders to think twice as the penalty would reflect the gravity of the crime.
He said existing jail sentences could be as brief as six months for a low-level assault.
Have you been the victim of choking? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To talk to somebody about sexual assault, domestic or family violence, phone 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit their website here.
- With AAP