KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- These battered figures on the walls at Knoxville's Family Justice Center paint a violent picture stemming from domestic abuse. Many times the abuse is in the form of strangulation.
"To know that they're going to be able to do something about it now makes me feel a lot safer," said a domestic violence survivor who asked to remain anonymous. She said her abuser frequently strangled her. "When it happened to me I knew that there was nothing I could do. I was just going to go through all the courts, go through a bunch of having to relive it all over again."
A newly passed bill in the state legislature ups the ante for strangulation. Right now it's only a misdemeanor. But if Governor Bill Haslam signs the bill, strangling will be a felony that could lock you up for six years. Lawmakers made the announcement before a packed audience Thursday.
"Tennessee ranks fifth in the nation for women killed by men. But today is a good day," said Russ Jensen.
Senator Jamie Woodson sponsored the bill. "This is a win for victims, it's a win for families," she said.
Before Woodson, then-senator Tim Burchett tried twice to pass it. Burchett said "it really does" close a loophole by bringing strangulation under the aggravated assault category.
If you, or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence call the Family Crisis Center hotline at 865-637-8000 for help.