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.