Domestic Abuse

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Research by criminology expert Dr Jane Monckton Smith suggests that men who kill their partners display a pattern of behaviour, a ‘homicide timeline’ that police could track to help prevent deaths.

Using all the cases on the Counting Dead Women website, in which the murdered woman had a relationship with the perpetrator, as well as some murders of male partners by men, Dr Monckton Smith has identified eight stages. These are: a pre-relationship history of stalking or abuse by the perpetrator; the romance developing quickly into a serious relationship; the relationship becoming dominated by coercive control; a trigger that threatens the perpetrator’s control (for example the end of the relationship or financial difficulties); escalation, involving an increase in the intensity or frequency of the control tactics (for example stalking or threatening suicide); the perpetrator has a change in thinking, deciding to move on; planning; and finally homicide, sometimes hurting the woman’s children as well as the woman herself. This was a very strong pattern, with stage one, pre-relationship stalking or abuse, the only significant variable, and then normally because the perpetrator had not had a relationship before.

The study has been published in the Violence Against Women Journal and it has been welcomed as a useful tool by police. Crucially for mediators, it points to the need to take coercive control very seriously as a form of abuse and to make sure that the mediation environment is a safe one.

For more information, see the BBC’s story at