When Domestic Violence Becomes Deadly
by Christina Hays
Working with domestic violence victims/survivors shows a distinct pattern in most violent relationships. Once a relationship escalates to the point of violence eventually the violence always repeats. The scenarios change, but the violence remains the same. Violence occurs because the perpetrator suffers with issues of power and control and not because they deal with addiction or mental illness.
Needing power and control and wanting it more than doing what is right or wrong. A perpetrator of violence justifies their violence by any means necessary including making up scenarios where their significant other cheats, lies, or abuses the perpetrator. Although addiction and mental illness do not cause violence they can significantly increase the likelihood of extreme force of violence and escalate violence to the point of death.
Criminology expert, Dr. Jane Monckton Smith, found an eight-stage pattern while studying 372 killings in the United Kingdom which was later published in the “Violence Against Women Journal.” Dr. Monckton Smith states, “Controlling behavior could be a key indicator of someone’s potential to kill their partner.” Dr. Monckton Smith reports women account for more than 80% of victims killed by their partners with males being the more likely to kill their partner. The following are the eight-stages of the pattern that Dr. Monckton Smith found:
1. A pre-relationship history of stalking or abuse by the perpetrator
2. The romance developing quickly into a serious relationship
3. The relationship becoming dominated by coercive control
4. A trigger to threaten the perpetrator’s control – for example, the relationship ends or the perpetrator gets into fiancial difficulty
5. Escalation – an increase in the intensity or frequency of the partner’s control tactics, such as by stalking or threatening suicide
6. The perpetrator has a change in thinking – choosing to move on, either through revenge or by homicide
7. Planning – the perpetrator might buy weapons or seek opportunities to get the victim alone
8. Homicide – the perpetrator kills his or her partner, and possibly hurts others such as the victim’s children
Dr. Monckton Smith finds that the only stage that was skipped in her research was stage one, but she discovers that is usually because the perpetrator had not had a previous relationship. Her research presents an easy model that law enforcement can use when dealing with potential victims. She teaches this to attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and probation officers all over the United Kingdom. According to Dr. Monckton Smith, “Police have been incredibly receptive, and recognize the steps in cases they are working on, because it speaks to their experience and makes an order out of the chaos that is domestic abuse, coercive control, and stalking.”
The question left is why don’t all domestic abuse incidents end in death? There is a somewhat simple answer. Either the victim/survivor gets out safely and stays out, or the abuser continues to get desired results without having to justify homicide. I believe that the first is the more prominent answer. We continue educating the public on what domestic abuse includes such as: emotional, financial, sexual, and mental abuse. These types of abuse come before physical violence. If we can get survivors out before physical violence we save lives!
If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence such as physical, emotional, financial, sexual or mental abuse, Crisis Services of North Alabama can help. CSNA provides confidential, free crisis-counseling regarding abuse. Please reach out and get assistance if you are planning to leave an abusive situation. This proves to be the most dangerous time, and our trained advocates can help formulate the safest way to leave. CSNA Jackson County office can be reached locally at 256-574-5826 or at our 24/7 HELPline at 256-716-1000.