Domestic violence and suicide

A little known fact outside those who work with family violence, is the correlation of suicide, attempted suicide, and threats of suicide by those choosing to use violence as a form of control over their partners.

Check this out, the Power and Control wheel, developed by women using an advocacy service for battered women in Duluth, Minnesota.

The tactics named in the wheel were how battered women described their abusive ex-partners as behaving.  Note the use of threats of suicide under the threats of violence section of the wheel.

We also have murder-suicide – when men kill women they have been previously violent towards before killing themselves.  This usually happens after women leave violent relationships, and could be seen just as a form of control “if I can’t have her, no one can” if it was solely murder.  But I think the addition of suicide tells us something too of male despair, at being left, at being “out of control”, of having treated someone they presumably, at some level, loved, without respect or dignity.

A study of 29 murder-suicides in New Zealand from 1993 to 1998 in which 63 people died (female partners and children  were murdered) presented murder-suicide as a progression of domestic violence.  The high profile murder of Reipae Dobson by her ex-partner Eldorado Waerehu, who then killed himself in 2006 was a recent case I can remember.  She had left him, got a protection order, and started a new relationship when he killed her.

There’s no doubting domestic violence is horrific – and that it happens too often in Aotearoa.  When a woman dies every 6 weeks at the hand of someone who says he loves her, something is very wrong.  Men who use violence to control and hurt women need a wake up call and help to begin to take responsibility for what they are doing.

What we perhaps have not examined enough is that without violent men seeking help, talking about the ways they have been using violence, learning new ways to communicate, and acknowledging that they cannot always be in control of their relationships – well without this, the despair of being a violent man, who eventually will be left by most women, may often be too much to bear.


4 thoughts on “Domestic violence and suicide

  1. Pingback: 5th Down Under Feminists Carnival « HellOnHairyLegs

  2. As you know the word family, is private. We will never understand, why. Its best, to leave it alone, and move on. Help the ones, that are living, the ones that we cant hear. This is tapu, for you, praying on the dead, like this. Let them rest in peace, now. And for you, to go in peace.

  3. Reading the articles, and the visual graph is such a loud silence. I can identify with ALL aspects of the chart and articles. The saddest is my children. My youngest id almost 3 and saw so much violence I never knew how much an impact it could have on him.

    I had for after 2 years of progressive violence, finally pressed charges. It escalated to choking that has left my spine and neck damaged, severely, but can be repaired with therapy in 7 months. I have a hearing on April 14, 2010.

    I live in Burlington, Vermont, and am very dissapointed with the support and legal system here. I feel alone and ashamed….there is a definite stigma….why did I stay? The legal advocate claims there is not much difference between the charges of assault or aggravated assault. I have been told many times by my ex…(boyfriend), while choking me, “tnight you will die, I will snap your neck, I want so much to kill you…” Even when he seemed reserved he shared his thoughts about how he could get away with murdering me….he knows he would get caught and cannot figure out how….

    This type of thinking is completely abnormal. I am flutuating mentally and an emotional wreck. I am very angry with the legal advocate…choking me and cutting my breath off is intent to do harm…..If I were dead today, I wouldn’t be able to say that in court. I have three children I love and want to not live this life but I know it is the wrong road and there are other options. I wish society was more informed about abusers and the victims. My father (who is an abuser himself) commented, ” that we love it…we ask for more…that’s why we stay…. ” This is not true.

    Unfortunately I must move to my parents home, which is why I stayed with Jan (my ex) in the first place. The violence escalated strongly…so it had to be stopped but I had always hoped Jan would try harder to change. I do believe the only way is for him to hit rock bottom and be punished criminally. He still believes strongly, It is not his fault, I cause him to behave this way…..or he is so unhappy with me I deserve the punishment for his life failures.

    If you read this…please pray for me. I need strength and support. I am more scared now than when Jan puts his hands around my neck. This part I do not understand…..not yet..


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