More than half of Australian young people are using strangulation during sex: new research

We recently surveyed thousands of young Australians about their experiences of strangulation (or choking) during sex and found more than half (57%) reported being strangled by a partner during sex. About half (51%) said they had strangled their partner during sex.

But strangulation carries significant risks and harms to those who experience it, including the possibility of serious injury or even death, sometimes months after the event.

Participants most commonly reported first becoming aware of strangulation during sex when they were around 16–18 years old (29%), or during early adulthood, 19–21 years (24%).

People also reported they were exposed to information about or depictions of strangulation during sex through various sources, most commonly via pornography (61%), but also through movies (40%), friends (32%), social media (31%) and discussions with current or potential partners (29%).

More women (61%) than men (43%) reported ever having been strangled, with a high proportion of people who identified as trans or gender-diverse (78%) reporting being strangled.

More men (59%) than women (40%) responded they had strangled their partners, and nearly three-quarters (74%) of trans and gender-diverse participants reported that they had strangled their partners.

Strangulation is linked to many different kinds of injuries regardless of whether there is consent. These can include bruising, sore throat, neck pain, a hoarse voice, a cough, difficulty swallowing, swollen lips, nausea and vomiting.

Other more serious impacts include pregnancy miscarriage, unconsciousness, brain injury and death. Miscarriage and death can occur weeks or months after the initial strangulation.

Generally, there are no visible injuries associated with strangulation, but even when the person remains conscious, brain injury may occur. We know the more often people are strangled, the more likely they are to experience brain injury. This includes memory loss and difficulties problem-solving. Brain injury also accumulates so the more strangulations, the worse it becomes.

Strangulation has been criminalised across Australia because of the risk associated with it in the context of domestic violence and the harms linked with it more generally. But there are different rules across Australia about consent. And consent can be “blurry”.

Source: More than half of Australian young people are using strangulation during sex: new research

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