Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence ( domestic violence ) is a major problem in society. Karen Ingala Smith has been counting women killed by men in the UK for several years. According to her March 2015 article Sex-differences and ‘domestic violence murders: “When men kill women partners or ex-partners, this usually follows months or years of them abusing her, when women kill male partners or ex-partners, it is usually after months or years of having been abused by the man they have killed.

See Abused women who have killed in self defense for some examples and Research on intimate partner homicide for academic research.

There are some rare exceptions – cases where an abusive woman has killed her partner. In those cases firstly the nature of the relationship is clear, and secondly these killings are not planned, unless there is a financial motive – rather they derive from a fit of anger, temporary loss of control due to an emotional argument.

When you consider events from this perspective, it is
(a) Very likely that Travis’ death resulted from an emotional argument.
(b) Probable that Travis and not Jodi was the aggressor.

In addition, there should be clues as to which partner was generally aggressive – in terms of emotional abuse, abusive language, name calling and character assassination.

Some key points:

  • Jodi had no financial motive to murder Travis.
  • Jodi had no criminal record or record of violence to others.
  • Travis was verbally abusive to Jodi, calling her names such as “whore”,”skank” and deriding her job as a waitress in sexual terms.
  • Jodi described and Travis admitted instances of forceful sex (“rape”), this is another sign of an abusive relationship. See Domestic Violence and Abuse : Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships. Travis also said: “I am going to tie you to a tree and put it in your arse all the way, I am going to tie your arms around the tree.” (See here around 23 minutes into the audio recording ).
  • There is evidence that Travis had a sexual attraction to children and downloaded legal and illegal pornography.
  • Jodi was never abusive to Travis in any way, she was always giving way and trying to placate him when they argued.
  • In emails written  January 2007,  friends of Travis  accuse him of emotionally abusing Jodi.
  • Jodi would even be deceptive to try and placate Travis. For example, Travis was jealous when she dated another man (“Abe”), and she wrote an email purporting to be to Abe, but actually she only sent it to Travis, to convince Travis she had dumped Abe. See also notes on the May 26 Gmail chat for evidence that Travis was jealous and may have suspected Jodi was starting a relationship with Ryan Burns.

A cycle of emotional abuse is described in a paragraph in Jodi’s diary on February 1, 2008, a few months before the tragedy:

“Well, today was interesting to say the least. Highs and lows. Travis was obscenely mean to me, but then he was extremely sweet and apologetic. It`s easy to forgive him when I remember who he is, who I am, and who we all really are, which is divine offspring, children of God.”

This cycle of verbal abuse followed by an apology is very characteristic of abusive relationships.

In the same diary entry, Travis threatened to shoot himself, another type of emotional abuse:

I drained my checking account to put money into his and then was hit with tons of fees, fees that he isn’t going to pay, $96 worth. And he has the nerve to tell me to balance my checkbook. Nay, he didn`t just tell me that, he screamed it at me, and then proceeded to say that he wants to get a gun and put it to his head and pull the trigger.

The physical evidence indicates that after Travis was shot, he made his way to the sink where he spent some time, including turning the faucet on and off. Turning his back to Jodi and running the tap  suggests he did not fear Jodi after being shot, meaning she had not attacked him. In addition, the cluster of nine shallow wounds to Travis’ back suggests Travis was the aggressor : evidently Jodi could not stab freely, and she could not have prevented him from moving if she had a knife. So those wounds suggest that Travis was restraining Jodi in a threatening way, and she was stabbing to make him let go. It also appears that the linen cupboard was opened, as it has spatter inside it but is shut in the photo that shows Travis lying on his back – that seems inconsistent with any reasonable theory of murder.

Finally Jodi’s testimony is very well corroborated by independent evidence, such as the testimony of domestic violence experts, emails, instant messages, photographs taken at the scene, and other witnesses.

To summarise:

  • it’s very probable there have been some prior incidents of physical abuse.
  • Taking into account the physique of Travis relative to Jodi
  • Taking into account Travis abusing Jodi in text messages,
  • Taking into account that serious physical abuse (including murder and attempted murder) of women by men is far more common than the reverse,
  • Taking into acccount that  when women act violently it is usually in response to violence or abuse;
  • It is overwhelming more likely that Travis physically abused Jodi than the reverse.
  • Any “clues” or circumstances that suggest otherwise (such as a lack of documentation of physical abuse) should be treated with considerable scepticism.

Next: Why was Jodi convicted?


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