Responding to Conflict-Related Intimate Partner Homicide

Elicka S.L. Peterson, Florida State University

This paper presents a discussion of the implications of addressing serious partner violence as a form of social control for police, domestic violence intervention and prevention programs, and policy-makers. Based on findings drawn from a quantitative and qualitative analysis of 228 intimate partner homicides committed in St. Louis, Missouri, I conclude that the differences in the lethal violence of partners is likely best addressed using responses based on a social interactionist perspective, in which such homicides occur as forms of conflict resolution, self-defense, retaliation, or as a form of lethal divorce. These findings have profound implications for responding tothe violence of intimates, and in some cases, suggest that current approaches are likely to have little impact, or even exacerbate this serious social problem. Specifically, mandatory arrest policies, offender-focused therapeutic options, and cultural considerations related to honor and respect will be discussed in terms of the possible impact of these crimes occurring as a form of social control.

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Updated 05/20/2006