The Trigger in the Homicide Timeline.

Trigger or perceived threat

Stage Four: Trigger. Real or imagined infidelity can be a trigger. “…a word – cuckold – that describes a man emasculated by the deception. ‘Delilah’ is the anthem of the emasculated cuckold. But digging down into those two words and the fact they even exist reveals the importance of possession, control and power to ‘masculinity’. (Note that ‘masculinity’ is not the same as ‘men’: ‘masculinity’ is a behavioural model that we impose on men and is adopted by some women. There are different ways of performing ‘masculinity’, but there is definitely a dominant model that is favoured and given more status…

Pregnancy is a time when coercive control and domestic abuse can become more visible…that pregnancy is a tipping point or a trigger that provokes an escalation in controlling behaviours…When a woman becomes pregnant her priorities may change, and medical professionals and family may become more influential and interested. This can be a real pressure for a controlling person, and so their control tactics escalate and what was always there becomes more visible and severe.

Stage four is the trigger stage: it is a happening that means something has changed or is changing for the controlling person. It means that they may be losing something they want and feel entitled to…

Although separation is the most common trigger by far, any change can be associated with potential separation and loss of control of the relationship. For example, the threat of financial ruin, bankruptcy, retirement, redundancy, or illness. Controlling people rarely like it when change is pushed upon them. They prefer the status quo.

A victim who has developed dementia, for example, may be unable to respond to control in the same way they used to: their partner may not be willing to look after their needs, and they may also resent the interference of health professionals, who will inevitably start to influence decisions. They may resent not being the centre of their partner’s attention. It should never be assumed that the killing of partners who are ill is a ‘mercy’ killing, not if there has been a history of coercive control. If the controlling person becomes ill they may lose their ability to exert control and this too can be intolerable to them.

The tipping point or the trigger is not simply jealousy. Women rarely kill their partners when they leave them. They are more likely to kill in self-defence or in fear of harm to themselves or their children, and they are more likely to kill themselves than their partner. Is this because women do not get jealous? We know that is not true, but we also know that the cultural script is that women are expected to tolerate infidelity and affairs, and they are expected to tolerate being controlled and taking a less active position more generally. There is also less pressure on women to maintain the kind of status of men…

…I do think a common thread is that women do not generally get taught that they have ownership of men – quite the opposite: they are more often taught that they are owned.”

#InControl #JaneMoncktonSmith

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