"If I Can't Have You, No One Can": Further Exploration of Estrangement Increasing the Risk of Intimate Partner Femicide

Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Johns Hopkins University
Daniel Webster, Johns Hopkins University
Kathryn Chouaf, Johns Hopkins University
Carolyn Rebecca Block, Illinois Crim Justice Info Authority
Doris Campbell, University of South Florida
Mary Ann Curry, Oregon Health Science University
Faye Gary, University of Florida
Judith McFarlane, Texas Women's University
Carolyn J. Sachs, California State University - Los Angeles
Phyllis Sharps, Johns Hopkins University
Susan Wilt, NYC Public Health Department

Results from the NIH, NIJ and CDC funded 12 city intimate partner femicide (IPF) case control study further supported the importance of the relationship state of estrangement as a risk factor for this type of homicide. Estrangement, operationalized as the woman leaving an intimate partner (husband, boyfriend, same sex partner, or ex) after having lived with him (separation after cohabitation) sometime in the year prior to the IPF, significantly increased the risk of murder for abused femicide victims aged 18-50 (N = 220) in multivariate logistic regression (OR = 3.22) in comparison to other abused women in the same cities. This risk was elevated even further (OR = 4.21) when it was a highly controlling man. Reports from proxies indicated that her leaving was an immediate trigger for the femicide in 32.7% of the femicides and that when she had a new relationship (11.8% of the femicides), this elevated the risk even more. This paper will further explore these results with narrative proxy and attempted homicide victim interview data and in combination with other relevant variables, such as stalking, severity and frequency of prior violence, presence of protective orders, and demographics, including relationship state (legal marriage, "common law," "dating". We will also present the data related to estrangement for the 87 (28% of entire sample of 307 victims) femicide victims who had experienced no prior domestic (N = 80) violence or were younger than 18 or older than 50.

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Updated 05/20/2006