This article puts intimate partner homicide (IPH) into a process perspective, and describes the situational precursors that constitute the build-up, that is, the first stage of the IPH process that precedes the deed. Fifty court files, from cases involving 40 male and ten female perpetrators, underwent thematic analysis. Our findings indicate that the build-up phase of an IPH is complex and encompasses several different features, of which some are clearly gendered. The results point to an escalation during the build-up: of possessiveness and violent behaviour in male-to-female cases, of alcohol/drug abuse, of mental health problems and/or of fears for the future, often connected to separation. Concurrent with previous research we found that women often kill in the context of their own victimisation. There were, however, other situations and motives that also stood out as being pertinent.
The practical implications of these findings are that practitioners should be particularly attentive to escalation of known risk factors, especially male possessiveness, and be aware that (the victim wanting) a separation may initiate escalation with lethal consequences.
This article puts intimate partner homicide (IPH) into a process perspective, and describes the latter two stages of the IPH process, that is, ‘changing the project’ and ‘the aftermath’. The focus of analysis is on the moment when the perpetrator chooses to kill the victim, and what s/he does and says in the wake of the killing. Fifty court files, from cases involving 40 male and 10 female perpetrators, underwent thematic analysis. Regarding the final trigger pertaining to changing the project, some situational factors that trigger male-perpetrated IPH seem to differ from the corresponding factors in female-perpetrated IPH. Feelings of rejection and jealousy seemed to be more common as triggers to kill for men than for women, while some cases of female-perpetrated IPH were linked to self-defence in response to IPV. Moreover, as noted previously, no female perpetrators displayed possessiveness.
Regarding the aftermath, after the homicide the perpetrators generally contacted someone and admitted to having killed their partners. Only a few perpetrators denied culpability and even fewer, mainly male, perpetrators concealed their crimes and denied knowledge of them. However, even in cases where the perpetrator admitted to having killed their victims, their courtroom narratives were apparently constructed to minimise resposibility.