The role of emotional dysregulation in pathways to intimate partner homicide

Ms Siobhan Lawler1

1Australian Institute Of Criminology, Canberra, Australia

Intimate partner homicide (IPH) is a significant global challenge and the majority of these homicides are perpetrated by a male offender against a female partner. Since the 1990s in Australia there has been an average of 70 intimate partner homicides per year and IPH is the most frequent homicide type perpetrated. Emotional dysregulation (stemming from early adversity, mental/cognitive and physical health conditions) is recognised to be a characteristic that commonly features in the perpetration of severe intimate partner violence such as homicide. Therefore, it is important to examine the role of emotional dysregulation in the pathways leading to intimate partner homicide that is perpetrated by men against their female partners. This presentation provides an overview of the role of emotional dysregulation in pathways to male-perpetrated intimate partner homicide. Judges sentencing remarks and coronial data from 200 cases of IPH against a female partner in Australia between 2006 and 2018 were analysed. The findings show that many male IPH offenders demonstrate histories of significant emotional dysregulation and general disability. The majority of offenders in the sample had at least one suspected or diagnosed substance use, cognitive, physical or mental health disorder. These were generally longstanding disabling conditions that impacted on the offender, their relationships and/or the homicide incident to varying degrees. A deeper analysis will be presented to explore how emotional dysregulation differs across diverse relationship and offending trajectories to identify ideal windows of intervention for intimate partner homicide.


Siobhan Lawler is a Senior Research Analyst in the AIC’s Violence against Women and Children Research Program. Siobhan was recently awarded a PhD in Medicine at the University of Sydney and she holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science and Criminology (with Honours) from the University of New South Wales. Her thesis examined alcohol use, aggression and violence among young people in Australia.


Aug 30 2021


8:00 am - 6:00 pm