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.

Controlling or Coercive Behaviour and Human Rights: Widening the Ambit of Harm

Marilyn McMahon4, Paul McGorrery4
4Deakin University

Recent reforms to domestic violence laws in England, Wales and Scotland have criminalised non-physical forms of abuse (such as psychological and financial abuse). These laws have been justified, at least in part, by reference to the human rights of victims. They reflect an increasing tendency to view domestic violence within the framework of human rights abuse. This paper explores the implications of this perspective, with particular attention being given to the effect of non-physical abuse on victims’ autonomy, and its consequently unique capacity to undermine a variety of human rights. In doing so, this paper evaluates how the criminal law generally engages with human rights and, more specifically, how the offences of controlling or coercive behaviour (England and Wales) and domestic abuse (Scotland) can protect victims of domestic violence from having their rights abused by expanding the ambit of harms recognised by the criminal law.


Dr Marilyn MacMahon is an Associate Professor at Deakin University School of Law. Her research interests are in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, criminal responsibility and evidence. She is currently involved in a research project exploring how women who are victims of domestic violence are constructed in legal proceedings.

The victim-offender dynamic in domestic abuse and coercive control:  An analysis of police data

Les Humphreys1
1Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom

Understanding the victim-offender dynamic in domestic abuse (DA) has important implications for policing and intervention.  Questions in this field abound.  Broadly this presentation will outline findings from an investigation into the frequency and repetition of offending and victimisation of DA.  Analysis was carried out on data obtained from Merseyside constabulary’s information systems – Merseyside is an area in the North West of England with a population of about 1.5 million people.  The sample analysed comprised information on all incidents that were crimed by Merseyside police between January 2016 and June 2017 (n=18,978).  In doing so a distinction is made between four groups 1) victims; 2) victim-offenders (individuals who, in terms of their contact with the police, are primarily victims, but who also ’offend’; 3) offenders; 4)  offender-victims (individuals who, in terms of their contact with the police, are primarily offenders, but who also ’victimised’.  Comparisons of the differences in the nature and prevalence of these groups will be made between a) individuals involved in cases charged with the new offence of coercive control and b) those charged with other forms of domestic abuse.  Findings will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of individuals involved in DA that comes to the attention of the police particularly when compared to similar work carried out by Muftić et. al. (2015).  Specifically, these findings make three important contributions – they help understand how the police interpret the law of coercive control; they help understand how best to respond to coercive control specifically and domestic abuse more generally; and they make a vital contribution to measuring police demand associated with DA.


Dr Les Humphreys is a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University specialising in quantitative methods. His research focusses on criminal justice research, criminal sentencing and domestic abuse.

Coercive Control: A clinical or a legal concept? Problems and possibilities

Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon3, Professor Sandra Walklate2

2University of Liverpool, 3Monash University

This presentation examines the efficacy of coercive control as a conceptual device for improving access to law and justice outcomes for women as victim/survivors of intimate partner violence. Elsewhere we have considered the problems and possibilities of translating a concept generated from clinical practice into legal practice alongside an exploration of the potential unintended consequences of creating an offence within from such a legacy (see Walklate, Fitz-Gibbon and McCulloch 2018). In that article we concluded that in order to appreciate the gendered nature of intimate partner violence as the increasingly different ways in which this is manifested more law was not the answer. Here we wish to explore further the conceptual/legal dilemmas posed by the introduction of coercive control as an offence in England and Wales. This demands a further critical excavation of the conceptual legacy of coercion from a legal perspective (as opposed to its clinical value). This analysis casts further light on the operational dilemmas posed by this legislation by directing attention towards the question of who the subjects of law, posed some time ago by Naffine (1990, 2003). This analysis adds further weight to the view that more law is not the answer.


Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University, researcher within the Monash Gender and Family Violence Research Program and an  Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Law and Social Justice at the University of Liverpool. Her research examines family violence, legal responses to intimate partner violence and the law of homicide in Australia and comparable jurisdictions.


The Coercive Control Offence and Implications for the Policing of Domestic Abuse

Dr Charlotte Barlow1, Dr Kelly Johnson1, Professor Sandra Walklate2
1Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom, 2University of Liverpool

Coercive and controlling behaviours were criminalised in England and Wales as part of Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. There has been consequent growing academic interest and critique of coercive control as a legislative concept (Walklate, Fitzgibbon & McCulloch, 2018; Walby & Towers, 2018). This paper aims to extend this discussion by exploring police responses to coercive control, informed by empirical data from the author’s N8 Catalyst funded project. The paper will consider how the idea of coercive control is utilised and understood in practice by police officers. Police responses to coercive control will be compared to violence against the person with injury cases, in particular ABH, to consider the similarities and differences. Most of the coercive control cases in the data-set analysed featured physical violence. The implications of this, both in terms masking actual levels of violence and the problems and possibilities of coercive control as a legal concept will be discussed.


Dr Charlotte Barlow is a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University. She has conducted research exploring police responses to domestic abuse, women co-offenders experiences of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls more broadly. She is the author of  “Coercion and women co-offenders: A gendered pathway into crime” (2016).

Ritual Abuse and Organisational Accountability in Australian Fire Services

Dr Tamika Perrott1
1Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

This paper contributes to contemporary debates on institutional abuse, gender relations and organisational accountability in male-dominated workplaces. Drawing on a critical analysis of institutional cultures and organisational response across metropolitan and country fire services in Australia, this paper explores the utility of ‘accountability’ as a practice. It details how Australian fire services respond to institutional abuses and sexual violence and identifies some of the key independent reviews that have occurred over the past decade. The silencing of victims accounts, the normalisation of violence and the inaction of these services to recognise and respond to sexual harassment and ritual abuse captures the difficulties of mobilising against institutional abuse in highly male-dominated workplaces. The analysis suggests that the systemic misogyny rooted in many of these ‘abuse rituals’ may also undermine future attempt to enact cultural change.


Dr. Tamika Perrott is a Research Assistant at Flinders University, investigating institutional abuse within the Australian Defence Force (ADF). With a background in studies of organisational sociology and psychology, her research focuses on human behaviour and group dynamics in workplace settings. Her PhD research explored workplace diversity, occupational identity and organisational reform in male-dominated workplaces, looking specifically at emergency first responder occupations.

Critical Hate Studies: a theoretical perspective

Dr Zoë James1, Ms Katie McBride1
1University Of Plymouth, Uk, Plymouth, United Kingdom

This paper sets out the critical hate studies perspective which provides a theoretical account of the harms of hate in contemporary society. In doing so the paper challenges existing theoretical approaches to hate ‘crime’ that have been unable to cohesively explain the variability of patterns of hate offending or perpetrator motivations for hate incidents that appear both extreme and banal. The paper proposes that a more nuanced critical account of hate must explicitly consider the influence of neo-liberalism on our subjective identity and lived experience. In doing so it is possible to acknowledge the impact of competitive individualism and the lack of a symbolic order on human interaction that stokes anxiety and leads to fear and loathing in late modernity as people fight for their position within the capitalist political economy. Following contemporary developments in critical criminology, this paper disputes the academy’s reliance on existing social constructionist accounts for hate crime and instead provides a fully psycho-social account that is able to elucidate hate harms that manifest subjectively, systemically and symbolically in society. In conclusion the paper therefore suggests that hate studies should utilise an approach which acknowledges the hate harms caused when individuals are denied recognition of their need for respect, esteem and love and are therefore prevented from flourishing.


Dr Zoë James is Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Plymouth, UK. Her key research interests lie in examining hate from a critical perspective with a particular focus on the harms experienced by Gypsies, Travellers and Roma. Zoë’s research has explored how mobility, accommodation, policing and planning have impacted on the lived experience of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma. She has presented her work nationally and internationally and is a board member of the International Network for Hate Studies. Zoë teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students in criminological theory, policing and critical hate studies. She is Associate Head of School for Criminology at the University of Plymouth.

Bringing online child abuse material into the family home: the intersection between online child abuse material and family violence

Dr Marg Liddell1, Ms Natalie Walker1
1Rmit University, Melbourne, Australia, 2PartnerSPEAK, Melbourne, Australia

Over recent years knowledge about the impact of online child abuse offences on women and children in Australia has grown enormously.  Factors promoting this increased knowledge include research commissioned by PartnerSPEAK (an online forum supporting women and children affected by this offending); increasing numbers of people engaging with PartnerSPEAK’s online forum; public speaking by PartnerSPEAK representatives, and media interest.  Understanding the intersection between this offending and family violence has also emerged.  This paper explores this relationship using evidence from PartnerSPEAK’s qualitative research and examination of data from 600 posts that were submitted to the PartnerSPEAK on-line forum.  What has emerged is that use of online child abuse material may bring violence to family members many ways. Sometimes this is seen in overt behaviour and sometimes in covert behaviour.  Additionally, the power over and the objectification of women and children; the dehumanising behaviour and the sense of entitlement expressed by online child abuse offenders are dynamics common to family violence perpetrators.  The cycle of abuse includes psychological, economic and sometimes sexual violence towards the partner and children.  Many consequences for partner victim/survivors are similar: trauma, the victim is disbelieved or blamed not just by the offender but by those expected to help; and housing and custody issues. A resulting concern is to ensure that the impact of this violence and abuse is not ignored and victims do not suffer the same lack of program response that occurred with child sexual abuse as well as family violence in recent decades.


Marg Liddell PhD is a senior lecturer at RMIT University and is the Chair of PartnerSPEAK Committee of Management.  Marg has over 25 years research and evaluation experience in qualitative and quantitative research in child protection; issues facing young people in the juvenile justice system; women and justice and the Inside Out Prison Exchange program. Qualitative research with vulnerable women titled “Women’s experiences of learning about the involvement of a partner possessing child abuse material in Australia” was completed in 2015 for PartnerSPEAK. More recent research 2016 to 2018 relates to the role money plays in family violence.

Natalie Walker is the founder and CEO of PartnerSPEAK, an online and face to face organisation that works with people who have suffered from a relative’s use of online child abuse material. PartnerSPEAK was funded in 2017 by the Victorian state government and now provides Intentional Peer support to people affected by a partner or family members online child abuse offending.  Natalie received a Churchill Fellowship in 2017 and will study the application of International Peer Support internationally.

Doing Therapeutic Justice for the families of the Disappeared: Exhumations as Justice in Spain

Ms Natalia Maystorovich-Chulio1
1The University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Forensic exhumations are more generally associated with criminal prosecutions seeking to attribute individualised or collective group for the sequestration, torture and killing of civilians. Spain is distinct as often there is no criminal investigation associated with the location of the disappeared. The exhumation of clandestine graves serves wider humanitarian goals after more than 80 years since the original crime was committed. Due to a policy of impunity and the statute of limitations for murder expired criminal investigations are not possible, despite the continuous nature of enforced disappearance. However, the privatised exhumations offer the relatives a therapeutic form of justice. It has allowed for public and open exhumation sites whereby the families can collaborate as they see fit in the recuperation of their dead. The open nature of exhumations permits communities to come together and contribute to the revision of collective memory in the recognition of the atrocities committed in the recent past. This offers those present access to truth as forensic specialists corroborate scientific findings with testimony and information of what happened to these victims of enforced disappearance. This counter-narrative offers survivors with recognition for the crimes committed against them and their families as well as the states failure in meeting with its obligations under international and domestic law.


Natalia Majstorovic-Chulio is a PhD student and casual academic with the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at The University of Sydney. She is interested in human rights and humanitarian law; transitional justice; amnesty laws, trauma and healing in post conflict societies; archaeological recovery of mass graves; capacity of social movements to enact change; etc.  She has been in cooperation with the Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory (ARMH) in Spain since 2012.

Her focus is on social research and methods in an attempt to merge my political and social interests with a scholarship, which might enact social change.  In this regard ethnographic and interview methods are particularly useful in developing greater understandings of the social world.


Encountering Femicide – Doing Justice to Victims of Intimate Partner Femicide

Dr Adrian Howe1
1Birkbeck University, North Melbourne, Australia

Panel: Encountering Femicide – Doing Justice to Victims of Intimate Partner Femicide

Convenors Adrian Howe and Daniela Alaattinoğlu

This panel launches Contesting Femicide – Feminism and the Power of Law Revisited (Routledge 2019) edited by Adrian Howe and Daniela Alaattinoğlu.

The panel will consist of the two editors and several contributors to the book, including Danielle Tyson, Anna Butler and Emma Buxton-Namisnyk. We will discuss our substantive research findings as well as our methodology, inspired by Carol Smart’s ground-breaking socio-legal text, Feminism and the Power of Law (Routledge 1989), which analyses and contests how criminal courts and criminal textbooks discursively constitute intimate partner femicide.

The book and the panel both have a strong focus on how traditionally and still today in many jurisdictions, criminal courts encountering these cases are concerned with doing justice to defendants, not their victims, leaving victims’ families and feminist analysts with a sense of injustice. It is precisely this sense of injustice that has led to reform movements in several Anglophone jurisdictions – Australia, Canada, England and Wales included – aimed at delivering justice to victims by tightening up or abolishing defences to murder that traditionally have had the effect of diminishing the lives and deaths of victims of intimate partner femicide. The treatment of victims in other jurisdictions, notably Turkey, Italy, Finland and South America, will also be discussed.


Adrian Howe  is an associate lecturer, Law School, Birkbeck University, London where she also has a visiting post. She has published widely in the field of sexed violence and is currently developing a Theatre in Education project based on her research on intimate partner femicide cases. The project’s first play,  Othello on Trial , has been performed in Melbourne, Australia and London, UK.

Daniela Alaattinoğlu  is a doctoral candidate at the European University Institute, Italy. She has taught criminal law at the Finnish Police University College and published within the fields of femicide, gender and law, gender violence and human rights. Her LLM thesis was awarded with the annual aw


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