Spotlight on female victims of intimate partner homicide

Dr Samara McPhedran

There are concerning knowledge gaps about the women killed by their intimate partners according to new Griffith University research.

Dr Samara McPhedran, who will present a paper at the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference in Hobart today, said while much is known about the men who kill their partners little is known about the victims of that violence.

“For sadly obvious reasons, victims are unable to tell us directly about their experiences. We really do not know much about those women and their situations from their own perspectives,’’ said Dr McPhedran, a researcher at Griffith’s Violence Research and Prevention Program.

She said limited international research had tried to understand victims’ experiences through looking at official data sources, such as police or coroners reports, or by interviewing family or friends of the victim.

“But not a single piece of Australian research into intimate partner homicide has combined these different types of information to build a comprehensive, unique picture of intimate partner homicide victims’ lives.

“This lack of in-depth research makes it difficult to identify women at high risk, to shape appropriate responses and services for those women, and to understand where and how our existing systems and policies may be falling short.”

She said improved victim-focussed knowledge about women who are killed by intimate partners is needed to inform effective practices to assess risk, and to more effectively support women in all aspects of their lives.

“Until we know more about the women who become victims of lethal violence, it will remain challenging to reduce intimate partner homicide and violence against women more generally.”