Abuse is most often a precursor of intimate partner homicides, whether the victim is the male or female partner. The majority (67-75%) of intimate partner homicides involve battering of the female by the male intimate, no matter which partner is killed (Bailey et al., 1997; Campbell, 1992; Campbell et al., 2003; McFarlane et al., 1999; Mercy et al., 1989; Moracco et al., 1998; Pataki, 1998; Websdale, 1999). Two earlier American studies in different jurisdictions documented that two-thirds of the intimate partner femicide cases had a documented history of battering of the female partner (Moracco et al., 1998; Campbell, 1992). The recent 11-city study found that 72% of the intimate partner femicides were preceded by physical violence by the male partner before he killed the woman (Campbell et al., 2003). Intimate partner homicides of men by women are also characterized by a history of battering of the female homicide perpetrator by the male partner in as many as 75% of the cases (Hall-Smith et al., 1998; Campbell, 1992). It has long been noted that female-perpetrated intimate partner homicides are often characterized by self defense, when the male partner is the first to show a weapon or strike a blow and is subsequently killed by his victim (Block ’93; Browne, Williams & Dutton, 1999; Campbell, 1992; Crawford & Gartner ‘92; Jurik & Winn ’90; Smith et al., 1998; Websdale, 1999; Wolfgang, 1958).
Intimate Partner Homicide – Homicide/femicide Rates
American women are most often killed by a husband or lover, or ex-husband or ex-lover (Mercy et al., 1989; Bailey et al., 1997; Bachman et al., 1995). Thus, intimate partner homicide is the largest category of murders of women, or femicide, accounting for approximately 30-40% of murders of women according to the official counts based on the Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR; National Institute of Justice, 2000). Since the SHR misclassifies as many as 13% of intimate partner homicides of women as non-intimate partner, this percentage is undoubtedly an underestimate (Langford, Isaac & Kabat, 1998). The recent 11- city intimate partner femicide study (Campbell et al., 2003) found 19.3% of those intimate partner homicides of women to be perpetrated by an ex-boyfriend, a category of perpetrator not specifically accounted for by the SHR. A recent analysis of the data on homicides of women in 2001 found that husbands and intimates perpetrated in 51% of cases (Brock, 2003). In contrast to homicides of women, homicides by intimate partners account for a relatively small proportion of murders of men in the US, approximately 5-8% in 2000 (Lattimore et al., 1997; National Institute of Justice, 2000).