Gendered entitlement or generally violent? Predictors of homicide offending by victim-offender relationship

Dr Samara McPhedran1, Dr Li Eriksson1, Professor Paul Mazerolle1, Associate Professor Holly Johnson2, Professor Richard Wortley3
1Griffith University, , Australia, 2University of Ottawa, , Canada, 3UCL, , UK

An estimated one in seven homicides globally are perpetrated by intimate partners, with the likelihood of victimisation higher for women than for men. In Australia, around one in five homicides are perpetrated by intimate partners, with women making up around 75 percent of victims. However, despite a growing body of research examining pathways to homicide, the literature remains divided on whether intimate partner homicide (IPH) offenders should be considered a distinct ‘group’ of homicide offenders. Some scholars argue that intimate partner violence reflects patriarchal gender structures, male entitlement, and proprietary attitudes, while others suggest that intimate partner violence is not an expression of gender and patriarchy, but of violent tendencies in general. Using data collected as part of the Australian Homicide Project, this paper compares IPH offenders with other homicide offenders across a range of dimensions including gender-based attitudes towards marital roles, endorsement of male privileges, approval of violence, and behavioural control. It also considers criminal career dimensions, past use of violence within and external to intimate relationships, and various psychosocial factors. Implications for policy and practice are identified.


Dr Samara McPhedran is a Senior Research Fellow with the Violence Research and Prevention Program at Griffith University. Her areas of particular expertise include homicide, suicide, firearm violence and injury prevention.

Parental abuse by dependent adult children: An emerging form of family violence?

Gemma Hamilton1, Lisa Harris1, Anastasia Powell1
1RMIT University , Melbourne , Australia

Research regarding family violence has typically focused on the violence between two intimate partners, or abuse perpetrated by parents towards their children. A less recognised form of family violence is parent abuse: a pattern of behaviour that uses verbal, financial, physical or emotional means to exert power and control over a parent. The bulk of the research that examines parent abuse either concentrates on adolescent-to-parent abuse where the child is aged between 10-18 years, or elder abuse where the victim is of post-retirement age (and the perpetrator may or may not be the victim’s child). The following paper focuses on an even further hidden category of family violence that involves the abuse of parents by their dependent adult children aged over 18 years. This paper draws on pilot data from an evaluation of a police-social services approach to family violence in Victoria, as well as three de-identified police case files involving child perpetrators aged over 18 years in order to shed light on this emerging category of family violence. Particular attention is paid to the service responses to such cases. The pilot data, together with the case studies, suggest that parent abuse by dependent adult children is a unique issue that currently lacks research and specialist responses within the family violence service system. This paper acts as a catalyst for future conversations and research about family violence that involves parent abuse by dependent adult children.

Dr. Gemma Hamilton is a post-doctorate research officer within the Gendered Violence and Abuse Research Alliance (GeVARA) at RMIT University. Her research focuses on violence against women and children, with expertise in family violence, sexual assault, and forensic interviewing. She is also a sessional lecturer in criminology and justice studies.

Prosecutions of controlling or coercive behaviour in England and Wales

Paul McGorrery1, Marilyn McMahon1
1Deakin Law School, Burwood, Australia

In December 2015 a new offence came into effect in England and Wales: controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. Similar offences have now been been enacted in Scotland and Ireland, and have also been considered by a number of Australian researchers. In order to better inform whether Australian jurisdictions should adopt an offence that directly criminalises non-physical family violence, we reviewed and coded secondary sources pertaining to 145 offenders charged with the new offence in England and Wales in the first 28 months of its operation (to 30 April 2018). This presentation provides an overview of key findings from that research, including the age and gender of victims and perpetrators, the types of relationships between them, the sentencing outcomes for convicted offenders, and the types of behaviours that most frequently constituted the criminal course of conduct.

Paul McGorrery is a PhD candidate at Deakin Law School, and Marilyn McMahon is the Deputy Dean of Deakin Law School. Their research area is in the criminalisation of non-physical family violence. They have hosted a roundtable on the topic, published a number of articles, and will soon release an edited book with contributions from criminal law and family violence experts.



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