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Love and lethal violence : an analysis of intimate partner homicides committed in London 1998 – 2009

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posted on 11.11.2013, 10:31 by Jacqueline Ann Sebire
On the evening of 31st October 2003, North London, four hours and six miles separated two homicides. A man ran over his fiancée meanwhile a woman stabbed her lover. The circumstances of these murders are different but both involve the death of intimate partners. This research examines whether there is any difference in the way men and women kill their lovers. The question is answered through three levels of analysis. Firstly an assessment of quantitative gender differences by examining 207 intimate partner homicides committed in London between 1998 and 2009. Secondly through a series of nonparametric tests on victim, suspect, relationship and offence characteristics to establish any variables are associated with or predictive of perpetrator gender. Finally results were considered in light of feminist criminology and evolutionary psychology, the preeminent theories of intimate partner homicide. The answers were not as simplistic as the question. Female offending was associated with quarrels, intoxication, self-defence, killing by stabbing and the presence of step-children. Male offending was motivated by infidelity or separation. Men exhibited more varied means of killing and were likely to kill themselves and others. A couple’s age discrepancy and level of intoxication were key elements of intimate partner homicide. What was unexpected was the non-significant influence of precursor relationship violence. The results were at odds with both feminist and evolution theory which seat female violence within on-going male abuse. This study placed female offending within an immediate situational context rather than antecedent violence. This study is unique as it is based on privileged access to original Metropolitan Police case files. Such detailed analysis providing a view of London’s Intimate Partner Homicide landscape had never conducted prior to this study. It is therefore of value to those professionals operating within the fields of domestic violence and homicide investigation as well as those who research it.



Boon, Julian; Maltby, John

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University of Leicester

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