Just days before the arrest of Brent Bruwelheide for attempted murder in the beating and strangulation of his girlfriend, national domestic violence experts spent two days in Bellingham training criminal justice, medical and social services professionals on strangulation and its impacts. Why? Because strangulation is a critical marker of high risk in domestic violence cases and one that too often goes unrecognized for its seriousness, despite its frequency. We should call the act of putting hands on another person's neck and applying pressure what it is - strangulation, not choking (as when a bite of food goes down the wrong way). This violent act of power and control can lead to loss of consciousness in as little as eight seconds and death in two to four minutes. Victims experience abject terror in the realization that their very life is in the hands of the abuser, an impact magnified by the horrifying reality of a San Diego study which found children were present in 50 percent of strangulation cases. Other realities: studies show that most attempted strangulation victims were strangled more than once, increasing the likelihood of lasting, cumulative effects such as brain damage, migraines, seizures, PTSD. Statistics also show these victims are seven times more likely to be homicide victims in the future. Anyone with concerns may call DVSAS at 360-715-1563 or Womencare Shelter at 360-734-3438.