The role of emotional dysregulation in pathways to intimate partner homicide

Dr Siobhan Lawler1

1Australian Institute Of Criminology

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 increased in severity during some stage of the relationship with the victim or escalated prior to the offence. A deeper analysis will be presented to explore how emotional dysregulation differs across diverse relationship and offending trajectories to identify ideal windows of intervention and prevention for intimate partner homicide.


Dec 10 2021