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It's More Common Than You Think: A New Webinar Series on Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence

October 28, 2021
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, GBMC has turned to virtual platforms to continue to educate the community. A new series, in partnership with WMAR-2 News, features members of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination and Domestic Violence Program (SAFE/DV) team speaking on the dangers of these crimes. It’s More Common Than You Think: Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence in Our Community is a quarterly educational series featuring experts in the field.

Roz (right) with State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger at GBMC's 2017 Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event
In the first conversation of the series on October 27, Rosalyn Berkowitz, BSN, RN, FNE-AP, a SAFE Nurse at GBMC, spoke with WMAR news reporter Erin MacPherson about the dangers of strangulation and the advocacy work being done by the SAFE/DV team and others to bring about true change for the victims of strangulation.

The good news? After more than five years of testifying to various legislators, writing letters, and advocating, Maryland was removed from a list of four states that previously had not considered strangulation a felony. This was an important hurdle because, during COVID-19, strangulation cases increased by 30% and the severity of the injuries has worsened.

Rosalyn, who goes by Roz, shared what actually happens when someone is strangled.

"External pressure on the neck blocks the flow of air or blood," she said. "It only takes 10 seconds and about five pounds of pressure to render someone unconscious, less pressure than it takes to open a can of soda."

Roz said only about 50% of strangulation injuries visibly appear on a victim, so it is important to notice other signs such as a raspy voice, a change in the voice, changes in vision or trouble swallowing. She said 68% of domestic violence victims eventually report they were strangled by their partner, and these crimes can have serious long-term consequences such as stroke, damaged vocal cords, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

It is important to note that when a patient is treated in GBMC’s SAFE/DV department, they can do so without pressing charges or involving police, and services are performed at no cost to the patient.

Roz and the GBMC SAFE/DV team know with education comes knowledge and with knowledge comes prevention. They continue to provide resources and training for groups such as churches, sports teams, schools, and corporations.

Knowing this information could help save someone’s life. See the video above to listen to this session or keep up to date for attending future sessions.
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