Tag Archives: murder

There are no crimes of passion

A new study from The University of Gloucestershire demonstrates the 8 stages that lead abusers to kill their partners. There’ an article about it here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49481998 which I will be referring to in this post.  This has a number of important implications…

It makes explicit the link between domestic abuse and murder – women who were killed by their partners (it is usually women who die and men who kill in these cases) were subject to controlling behaviour before they were killed. This means that emotional and psychological abuse can be indicators of risk and should not be downplayed.

The study makes explicit that when men kill their partners, they can also kill the partner’s offspring. This has massive implications for a family court system that has long insisted that contact with both parents is by default what’s in a child’s best interest. Abusive people abuse, and some kill, and those who kill their partners and ex-partners sometimes also kill children. Putting a child into direct and unsupervised contact with an abusive parent cannot be in the child’s best interests. It is a risk that needs taking seriously.

I’m heartened by the way this report puts responsibility for killing firmly on the shoulders of the killer. Too often, this kind of murder is talked about in terms of jealousy, justified in some way by the victim’s actions, or suspected actions. We’ve got a lot of cultural framing that treats sexual infidelity as a reason for rage and murder. Tom Jones’s Delilah is a rather obvious example of the form. But it’s a myth. Men who kill don’t suddenly hit an experience they can’t handle, have a meltdown and kill in an out of control way. The take-away quote for me, from Dr Monckton Smith is “there’s always coercive control.” There are 8 stages that lead to these murders, and coercive control is reliably one of them.

Deliberately manipulating your partner to control their behaviour is something we need to take a lot more seriously. It’s noticeable that when it comes to sentencing, men who kill having claimed a state of rage in response to female behaviour, get much lighter prison sentences than women who killed abusive partners because they couldn’t take it anymore. Pre-meditation gets you a longer sentence. But when you look at the eight stages on this list, it’s pretty obvious that this kind of domestic murder is pre-meditated and they were just waiting for an excuse, an opportunity or a justification.

As the article points out, we need to start asking why people feel the need to control their partners in this way and why they feel entitled to kill. We need more studies and we need answers that can put a stop to all of this. We need to take emotional and psychological abuse much more seriously, we need to change how domestic abuse is perceived and dealt with in the law, in the media and in society as a whole.


A funeral for Mary

We’ll have a funeral for Mary
Who was buried in the jail
Procession now and fine tombstone
With mourners come to wail.

Who spoke for you, dear Mary,
When you languished in the cell?
The world bar one accused you
Promised you the fires of hell.

Only Henry, ever trusting
Only Henry, your sweetheart
Did not doubt in your virtue
Stalwart, steady, took your part.

Plain Miss Jones declared against you
Thinking she would claim your man
If they punished you for murder
Jealousy would see you hang.

Old Miss Blunt, forever sleeping
Cannot say who struck the blow
If a thief came through her window
Or her servant from below.

Storm and strife struck you that evening
Plans and dreams all stripped away
As you old mistress was slaughtered
For your blood the neighbours bray.

Only Henry, ever faithful
Would not think the worst of you,
Fought to keep you from the gallows
Never doubted, ever true.

They took you to the scaffold
You sought mercy at each turn
Blamed for a brutal murder
But your truth they did not learn.

Now they’ve found the men who slew her
Eagerly did they confess,
And Miss Jones is chased to exile
Your poor bones do others bless.

Now your Henry, always loyal
Leads your funeral parade
Your wronged corpse resurrected
Only finds another grave.

This is a true story, Mary from Littledean was hanged in Gloucester jail for a crime she was adamant she did not commit. Some years later the real murderers were found, but of course by then it was too late for her. When I read the story in Lyn Cinderey’s ‘Paranormal Gloucester’ I thought it sounded like it should be a folk song. Perhaps one day I’ll put a tune to it. In the meantime, my thanks to Lyn for the inspiration. I’m anti capital punishment, for all the reasons this poem flags up.