A Griffith University study on female victims killed by their intimate partners will aid researchers in identifying risk factors to help improve women’s safety.

“Each year in Australia about 100 females become victims of lethal violence,’’ says lead investigator Professor Paul Mazerolle, Griffith University Pro Vice Chancellor (Arts, Education & Law) and Director, Violence Research and Prevention program.

Two out of three of those victims are killed by a current or former intimate partner. In contrast just one in 10 (or fewer) male homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.

“The over-representation of women killed by intimate partners highlights the need for improved prevention efforts focussed on reducing this form of extreme violence,’’ Professor Mazerolle said.

Professor Paul Mazerolle, Pro Vice Chancellor (Arts, Education and Law)

Although recent high-profile cases of intimate partner femicide (IPF) have received considerable media attention and driven public calls for action, the knowledge base around IPF is limited.

Much of the research has focussed on perpetrators and not on the victims. Until now.

During the study researchers will undertake in-depth interviews with families and friends of 20 deceased women to gather comprehensive information about victims of Intimate Partner Femicide.

Interviews will explore a diverse set of factors across the lifetime of the interviewee’s loved one — ranging from help-seeking efforts and access to social support to psychological distress and past experiences of violence.

Queensland Homicide Victims’ Support Group General Manager Brett Thompson said the group was excited to be working with Griffith University on this project.

“This research project will provide critical feedback that has the potential to influence and strengthen more effective and proactive intervention measures, empowering women and families at risk and ultimately reducing the incidence of IPF in the future.

“It is our hope that the findings will also benefit the members that we currently support through their own experience of IPF.”

From the interview data, researchers will develop a detailed, victim-focussed, life-course profile of IPF victims to identify short and long-term risk, protective and predictive factors for IPF.

”It is important to develop insights into the range of circumstances and factors that may have contributed to women’s risk and victimisation or may have reduced their ability to access support and safety,’’ Professor Mazerolle said.

“Expanding the knowledge based about risk and protective factors for victimisation is also crucial for informing the development of policies and strategies aimed at addressing the causes of violence and for improving women’s safety in general.

“Improved victim-focussed knowledge can help identify the barriers women face and the shortcomings of system responses they may call upon.”

The study is supported by a grant from the Commonwealth of Australia through the Criminology Research Grant (CRG)”.