Title

Factors associated with intimate partner homicide in a West Australian context

Author Identifiers

William Anthony Thompson

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3029-9678

Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Criminal Justice

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Pamela Henry

Second Advisor

Jane Tudor-Owen

Abstract

Domestic Violence (DV) is prevalent within Australian society with one in four women experiencing some form ofDV (ABS 2017) in their life. The Australian homicide rate is about 250 deaths per year, of which 52% are domestic related (Virueda & Payne 2010). Domestic homicides include Intimate Partner Homicide (IPH), where the victim and offender shared, or formerly shared an intimate relationship (for example married, defacto and ex partners; Bryant & Cussen 2015). This study analysed the factors of West Australian (WA) IPHs from 2012-2017 inclusive. The aim was to identify aetiologies of IPH offending across ethnicity and gender to understand causes and implications ofIPH in WA. This research conducted two studies to achieve this: Study 1 constituted a systematic review of IPH research. The rationale for Study 1 was to situate the findings of Study 2 within the c9ntext of WA, national and international IPH research. Study 2 used a multiple case study design, using content analysis to examine WA Police Force IPH investigation case files and associated databases. The study examined 59 IPHs for the period 2012-2017 inclusive (N=59).

Study 1 and Study 2 both found the majority of IPHs involve a male offender and female victim. Male IPH offenders are generally found to have criminal records, including records of prior violence and histories of intimate partner violence (IPV) with the IPH victim. Motives of the male IPH offender commonly revolve around issues of jealousy and sexual proprietariness. Both studies indicate female IPH offenders generally commit IPH as a means to escape ongoing IPV. Study 2 found this trait salient amongst Aboriginal female offenders. However, both studies found evidence to suggest female IPH offenders may also be IPV offenders, subject to the same issues of jealousy and sexual proprietariness observed in male IPH offenders. Both studies identified alcohol use as a key factor of IPH, with significant findings relating to alcohol use by offenders and victims at the time of IPH. Both studies found a relationship between geographical location and IPH, with rurality representing a greater risk ofIPH through a lack ofDV services, remoteness of location and associated social and cultural issues. Both studies identified attempts to leave, or recent separation from violent relationship, represent high risk of IPH. Informal cohabitating relationships present as the relationships with the greatest risk of IPH, marriage appears to have protective attributes, whilst divorced relationships represent the lowest risk of IPH.

The findings of Study 2 also suggested the aetiology of the IPH offender varies across gender and cultures. Aboriginal people are over-represented as IPH offenders and victims, and are influenced by cultural violence, alcohol misuse, rurality and mental health issues. The major implication derived is that as offender aetiologies differ across offender gender and culture, DV services need to be tailored according to gender and culture to reduce IPV and IPH. A second major implication of the study is that health factors such as mental health issues and alcohol and drug use are significant factors of IPH.

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