The horror of intimate domestic terrorism

At some point escape will seem impossible

“The case I am looking at for the coroner is about the death of a woman who killed herself after persistently reporting that she was suffering terrifying control and violence at the hands of her husband. She had repeatedly said she would not support a prosecution, and therefore some people questioned whether she was telling the truth about the abuse. I had been retained as an expert witness to inform the inquest about domestic abuse and coercive control, and especially the ways that victims and perpetrators behave…why didn’t she just leave?… If it was that bad, surely, she’d have gone?… Didn’t she care about her children? Why wouldn’t she support a prosecution?” 

Jane Monckton Smith, author of ‘In Control Dangerous Relationships and How They Can End in Murder,’ points out that we are asking the wrong question; instead, we should ask why it is in her best interests to stay?…Coercive control is often invisible, elusive or hidden. It may be recognised in law, but that has not made it easy to recognise in practice or to understand.”

What needs most recognition and support is that targets are correct to fear ‘escape’; it can be the most dangerous time for the woman and her children. Instead, we should be looking at the behaviours of the perpetrators so that we can understand the stages in domestic violence that can lead to murder.

“By examining over 400 cases of intimate partner homicide…, I was able to build pictures of the killers and what motivates them to kill their wives, husbands, partners, and even children. What I have found is that the killers are often following patterns of coercive control. By identifying and recognising these patterns, we can track how and why risk may be escalating for potential victims – spot changes earlier to intervene and stop people coming to harm. That escalation I have organised into an eight-stage journey that I have called the Homicide Timeline.

… Quite quickly, the timeline was being used in real-time by police and others to assess risk and threat; in reviewing homicides; and in arguing for protective orders.”

Forget the ‘Crime of Passion’ defense – the timeline shows patterns of behaviour, stealth and planning.

Stage One: History: a history of control or stalking

Stage Two: Early relationship: the commitment whirlwind

Stage Three: Relationship: dominated by control

Stage Four: Trigger: an event to challenge control

Stage Five: Escalation: escalating control or the advent of stalking

Stage Six: A change in thinking: a change of focus

Stage Seven: Planning: planning a homicide

Stage Eight: Homicide and/or suicide

#CoerciveControl #Control #JaneMoncktonSmith #HomicideTimeline

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