Domestic Homicide Research Paper


There is little research done on the dynamics of domestic violence and homicide, but this problem is a great public health concern all over the world. The issue is urgent for population groups regardless of race, social class, religion and ethnicity. Both in the United States and outside it, females are more vulnerable to abuse and violence on the streets and in home. According to Van Wormer and Roberts (2009), “in the United States…estimates are that more than three women a day are killed by their intimate partners” (p. 2). Currently, the domestic violence is still a serious problem that can take the form of suicide, murder, and even the entire family killing.

The term homicide literally implies a murder of a person, both male and female. Domestic homicide, however, refers to a broader definition of the man killing. Specifically, it can include infanticide, the murder of children, femicide, woman’s killing, and filicide, a murder of a parent, or familicide, a murder of the entire family (Van Wormer & Roberts, 2009). Additionally, Van Wormer and Roberts (2009) report that a third of domestic murders are predominantly suicide-killings committed by man who murders his intimate partner. Therefore, the ratio of female victims is much higher than that of males.

The above-presented problem is on the current agenda because it undermines legal, ethical, healthcare, and public issues. In this respect, the development of prevention mechanisms dealing with the increased ratio of domestic homicide should be introduced to reduce the number of victims of violence and abuse within a family. The problem is of great significance because little research has been done on the causes and nature of the domestic fatalities. Nonetheless, the statistics shows that this issue should be tackled seriously to improve the situation in healthcare and public sectors. Specifically, it is essential to develop mechanisms for the victims to act in the situations that threaten their lives as well as provide recommendations and guidelines for improving the protection strategies.

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Problem Statement

Domestic violence and abuse leading to a death is among the most urgent problems raised in social and healthcare spheres. As a proof, Eke, Hilton, Harris, Rice, & Houghton (2011) have discovered that “…women killed by an intimate partner scored higher than abuse survivors in retrospectively measured risk for IPH” (p. 211). According to the reports and research studies provided by the World Health Organization (2013), about 30 % of women aged 15-49 experience sexual violence on the part of their partners. The sexual abuse and deterrence is followed by severe health consequences and even lethal outcomes. From a global perspective, the problem of domestic homicide, particularly violence against women, is also threatening. As the World Health Organization (2013) states, nearly 15 % of Japanese and 71 % of Ethiopian women experienced sexual and physical abuse on the part of their partners. It has also been found that sexual abuse is mostly committed by men against women. Specifically, 20 % of women and only 10 % of men under the age of 15 testify to the fact of sexual violence (World Health Organization, 2013). Violence and abuse are direct causes of homicide and murder-suicide among the victims of domestic terrorism. In this respect, Garcia-Moreno and Watts (2011) have provided the research on the victims of violence, leading to homicide due to multiple health problems such as mental, physical, sexual, and reproductive injuries and disorders. The lethal outcomes are also linked to such risk factors as drug use, substance abuse, unsafe sex, and smoking, leading to serious health problems. Hence, domestic homicide directly relates to increased rates of mortality and, as a result, the health burden is much more serious than it was previously considered.

Domestic murder correlates with a range of conditions and circumstances under which the crimes are committed both in the United States and all over the world. The violence and physical abuse constitute a global problem nowadays because they are recognized in such countries as Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom (Armour, 2011). The Unites Nations count almost 5000 women murdered as a result of domestic abuse (Armour, 2011). These killings occur predominantly in Muslim countries where male’s rights prevail over the female ones. Women consider it normal that males have the right to beat them and humiliate in case they violate the accepted religious rules. Therefore, the women’s murders could be regarded as a global phenomenon, which requires international efforts and cooperation in providing viable solutions for reducing the number of victims. This problem is represented from various perspectives, but the priority is given to healthcare challenges for treating the problem.

Although femicide belongs to the most widely spread type of domestic homicide, there are also other kinds of murders happening in home such as familicide and infanticide. The latter is also frequently analyzed in numerous research studies. In particular, the world report on child abuse and negligence has revealed that girls are under greater threat of infanticide and sexual abuse (World Health Organization, 2002). To understand the seriousness of the problem, the attention should be given to the analysis of the domestic homicide, its history, nature, types, and causes. The overview of cases of domestic murders will also shed light on psychological, social, and cultural aspects of the issue. Additionally, it is also essential to define the impact and consequences of domestic homicide in terms of emotional and social cognitive outcomes. The point is that children and women who suffered from domestic violence or witness the scene of domestic homicide can face serious identity and emotional problems.

Integrated Literature Review

Nature, causes, and consequences of domestic homicide have actively been researched during the recent decades. Previously, few studies have been dedicated to this issue. In order to understand the scale and importance of the investigated problem, the emphasis will be placed on the analysis of a historic background, legal aspects of considering domestic homicide, as well as social, healthcare, and psychological analysis of the problem. All these perspectives will help provide a deeper understanding of how this issue could be solved.

The history of violence crimes, particularly domestic homicide, dates back to the nineteenth century and is predetermined by complex social, religious, and class issues. Drugge (2009) pays close attention to social and extra-legal norms that stood out through the people’s testimonies. While examining the four cases of domestic homicide occurred in nineteenth century, the researcher refers to different socio-economic contexts to define to what extent the events are affected by them. The assessment of value systems as well as state-church relations requires specific attention because it directly relates to the case of domestic murders. While investigating the Swedish legal background, Drugge (2009) states, “The main principles behind various penal systems are retribution, protection of society, individual deterrence, general deterrence and reformation or rehabilitation” (p. 57). The society’s outlooks on justice were conventional and confined to punishment of those who commit unlawful actions. Old-fashioned views on crimes were also related to the analysis of forensic psychology. At the threshold of the nineteenth century, the domestic homicide trends were closely associated with gender tensions. Specifically, Adler (2003) explains, “wife beating represents a “strategy of patriarchal power”, typically employed either to discourage women from challenging men’s authority or to rein in those who stray from established or expected gender roles” (p. 27). As a result, social conditions and gender roles assigned to males and females also concern cultural and demographic backgrounds. The mixture of all these circumstances triggered serious conflicts, thus leading to family problems and domestic homicide.

Historical perspective of analyzing the dynamics of domestic homicide provides a deep insight into the analysis of etymological perspective explaining the relations between socio-cultural perspectives and the ratio of killings happened in home. In this respect, Parker (2012) emphasizes the global nature of the phenomenon that takes places in multiple cultures but for various reasons. Therefore, there are also different names and definitions of this phenomenon. For instance, the researcher outlines, “the Western media continues to distinguish domestic homicides in developing countries – specially, dowry death in Indian – from domestic homicides in the United States (Parker, 2012, p. 1184)”. Although these two definitions differ in cultural and traditional terms, the essence of the crime has not changed. At the same time, the analysis of Western and Eastern views on domestic murders is directly predetermined by traditions. Additionally, the causes of domestic deterrence might differ as well. For instance, the dowry deaths are explained by the bride’s inability to meet the tradition demand, or by the women’s infidelity. The American women suffer from physical abuse for similar reasons, yet culturally undetermined.

The role of social media and cultural boundaries in exploring the roots and causes of domestic homicide is also discussed in the studies by Wilson and Websdale (2012), according to which lethal outcomes occur due to the insufficient research on psychological and cognitive perspectives of relations within a family. Specifically, the researchers argue that both the criminal justice system and health public sector should bear equal responsibilities for creation of the mechanism reducing the cases of domestic murders. In addition, Kovacevi? et al. (2010) also dedicated their research to the analysis of legal perspectives in dealing with domestic violence and homicide. Specifically, the scholars have paid close attention to forensic aspects of treating the crime. The findings suggest that “the role of the family in shaping one’s personality is known to be of great importance in the complex process of dynamic interaction between the person itself, its family and environment which play part in multiple psychological interactions” (Kovacevi? et al., 2010, p. 35). The studies also support the idea that nearly 60 % of homicide offenders originate from dysfunctional families due to the distorted images of roles that parents play in educating children. As a result, inadequate family environment can became the leading factor for development of antisocial behavior and various personality disorders. Additionally, homicide offenders demonstrate deviations in social development, including such problems as substance abuse and home runaways.

Due to the fact that the increased ratio of domestic homicides relates to mental disorders, healthcare professionals should take the corresponding measures for preventing the development of psychological disorders among potential domestic offenders. To enlarge on this issue, Litherland (2012) discusses the role of health visitors in recognizing domestic violence and abuse. In fact, exploring the strategies that nurses employ while visiting patients is essential for eliminating the cases of domestic homicide. The findings presented in the study suggest that trust and the fear of disclosure are crucial conditions explaining the reasons why women often conceal the fact of domestic violence from health visitors. The focus on health issues and family history also correlate with the transmission of violence theory, according to which “intergenerational transmission of violence is sustained…by traditional customs and views about women” (Spooner, 2009, p. 378). Hence, displays of violence by some of the partners are often explained by the experience of abuse among children, which increases the likelihood of domestic homicides. Violent behavior, therefore, is the matter of cultural traditions and attitudes accepted in various societies. For instance, Spooner (2009) has explored the women’s reaction to violence to find out that females in Caribbean region are likely to accept an aggressive and cruel attitude because it constitutes an integral part of family culture. Inappropriate healthcare strategies can also create challenges for understanding how increased rates of domestic homicides are connected with the inadequate psychiatric treatment of patient suffering from schizophrenia (Kovacevi? et al., 2008). Therefore, exploring different schizophrenia patterns is essential because it provides healthcare profession with an efficient algorithm for acting in critical situations. It also minimizes the case of domestic homicides.

Children are also under the great threat of domestic violence and abuse leading to lethal outcomes because this category of victims is the most vulnerable. It presents problems not only for healthcare professionals but also for criminal justice system that deals with juvenile delinquency. In fact, children’s exposure to violence leads to psychological and social deviations in future and, as a result, an adult who was abused in childhood is more inclined to commit murders when creating a family. According to Jaffe, Campbell and Olszowy (2013), “children exposed to [domestic violence] may witness and/or hear the violence; they may see direct consequences of the violence, such as emotional distress, bruises, or wounds” (p. 56). Therefore, the current research tends to recognize the seriousness of the problem and explores new cases of children abuse. What is more important is that the research explorations are aimed at defining the evident connection between domestic homicide and victimization. The need for fruitful collaboration and interaction to fight with killings in home is urgent because it can create preventing mechanisms as well as strategies for coping with the cases of aggressive behavior. This is of particular concern to governmental policies penetrating to healthcare and public sectors. The country should pay diligent attention to the problems that families experience irrespective of their social statuses and income levels.

The above-presented overview of research literature proves the multifaceted nature of the problem of domestic homicide in the United States and abroad. Attention to forensics and criminal aspects, healthcare analysis of the family violence, as well as social and cultural dimensions of domestic homicide create a new insight into the problem analysis and resolution. Therefore, by critically analyzing the history, nature, and legal issues the researchers can understand the veritable reasons of the cases of domestic murders.

Critical Analysis

A complex synthesis and analysis of reviewed literature have contributed to better understanding of the main factors, underpinnings, and origins of the investigated problem. The emphasis should be placed on analyzing gender issues in domestic homicide rates, psychology of domestic offenders, psychological frameworks to deal with health problems, governmental assessment of the situation, and the existing statistics on domestic murders. Additionally, evaluating healthcare organizations in terms of their responses to increased violence and psychological instability of their patients is also essential for increasing the accuracy of prediction of violence and abuse displays.

The connection between psychiatry and crime is reached via the analysis of history of domestic homicide. Indeed, the history of murders in home has been recognized since the concept of family has emerged. The shifts in perceiving violence and abuse are tangible; nevertheless, the proposed strategies are not always effective ways to treating this problem. To give a deeper insight into the issue, it is possible to refer to the studies by Drugge (2009) who delves into the sophisticated essence of criminal psychology.

While estimating gender aspects in the literature being explored, the majority of the researchers are more concerned with describing women and children as the major victims of domestic violence and homicide, thus leaving no space for evaluating the psychology and behavioral patterns among man as domestic offenders (Spooner, 2009; Eke et al., 2011; Garcia-Moreno & Watts, 2011). There is no connection identified between problematic children who might become a potential threat to social welfare. Little research has been done on the strategies that health care professionals use to explore behaviors, attitudes, and perception of man on the concept of family (Sully et al., 2005; Jaffe et al., 2013). Instead, the focus is made on women and children and their evaluation of the situation within the family. For instance, women are more frequently interviewed than men in terms of their understanding of a family perspective. In this respect, there is a growing necessity of introducing research studies on exploring the role of males in creating families.

Apart from gender unequal distribution in research, little information is available on psychology of homicide offenders. Certainly, some of the studies identify the psychological portfolio of homicide offenders, but they refer to the psychological problems they experienced in the past (Kovacevi? et al., 2008). In addition, healthcare professionals should be more aware of the distinctions between aggressive behavior and psychological problems among adults with mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Hence, before introducing solutions to the problem, it is appropriate to provide definitions of medical terms.

The role of social contexts and traditional aspects in domestic homicide rates is also limited in research. Few studies discuss racial and traditional determinants of domestic homicide; most of them highlight the perception of victims but not the ones who commit outlaw actions. Cultural trends in determining the fluctuations of domestic homicide cases are essential as well because they also explain historical tendencies in committing murders in home (Adler, 2003; Drugge, 2009; Parker, 2012). The closeness of family members as well as cultural patterns imposed by social prejudices and stereotypes can contribute to the analysis of the research problem. Specifically, due to the fact that the majority of researchers consider the problem of homicide prevention in terms of healthcare issues, analysis of culture and its influence on domestic violence and antisocial behavior is a necessary condition for developing specific strategies to fight the criminal cases.

The research studies on forensic aspects of domestic homicide are abundant because they contribute to the analysis of healthcare policies toward treating emotionally and psychologically unstable people. The major challenge for reducing murders consists in the reluctance of victims and other family members to inform about any cases of violence and aggressive behavior because of the fear of disclosure (Litherland, 2012). In addition to this problem, the government also fails to unite forces in fighting domestic violence and abuse and introducing alternative measures and coping mechanisms. Therefore, although the scholars have scarcely researched the topic, they still provide implication for further scientific explorations in the field. In particular, it is possible to define how the government influences the work of healthcare providers and social workers. A synthesis of the information on separate approaches can help the organizations and institutions to develop new tools for dealing with domestic offenders. At the same time, lack of coordination and cooperation between the criminal justice system and healthcare organization constitutes a serious problem.

Although there are specific social and voluntary organizations combatting domestic homicide, their work will not be efficient until the information inflow system is properly arranged. As a result of the insufficient date incoming to these services because of the reluctance of the public to expose information, these organizations will not be able to function accordingly (Sully et al., 2005). In addition, due to the fact that most of the research studies explore the problem in a specific region, the questions arise concerning the availability of mutually coordinated systems in the United States, which could provide systematic and timely assistance in these cases.

Detailed consideration and evaluation of forensic aspects of domestic homicide should be congruent with the analysis of collaborative practices and frameworks. In this context, assessment of risks and possibilities of intimate partner homicide should be carried out by both law enforcement mechanisms and healthcare organizations (Eke et al. 2011). Specifically, the emerged team should not only established efficient schemes for managing the public sector, but also take greater control of social media. In fact, the analysis of multiple research studies fails to provide assessment of the negative effect of social media on displaying the distorted images of families. In fact, both the Internet and television focus on the problem of dysfunctional families, substance abuse, and violence. These images can penetrate to individual consciousness, leading to disruption of outlooks on family relations. This is of particular concern to children upbringing. Certainly, it is impossible to establish the direct connection between the threats of computer-mediated environment and domestic homicide, but a synthesized approach to literature review allows making a number of conclusions.

The critical evaluation of the research studies, especially those focusing on cases of domestic homicide sheds light on the problem of insufficient prevention mechanisms introduced by counselors, healthcare, and the court system. Women addressing these institutions are often rejected because of insufficient evidence of domestic violence. In fact, the point is that the acknowledged risk factors for violence, abuse, and homicide are not fully explored. For instance, the researchers fail to adequately address such issues as gun ownership, substance abuse, threats to kill, and record of violence and connect them to the cases of murders in home. Additionally, there is no particular scale that could predict, identify, and recognize the threat of killing in families. These variables, however, are often assessed in other contexts such as health care issues and public policy.

In conclusion, the findings turned out to be both controversial and consistent. The controversy of the research studies is confined to the inability to approach the topic of domestic homicide in a broader sense. Instead, the emphasis is placed on separate cases of murders in various regions. The cases analyzing homicide among ethnical minority groups have also been defined and explored. Although they do not provide the full picture of the problem, they contribute to understanding of how the problem of domestic violence could be solved. The main benefit of the studies consists in the possibility to synthesize those to develop viable solutions and outline trends and patterns in social and psychological responses to domestic homicide and abuse.

Problem Resolution

The dynamics of domestic homicide demonstrates that women and children are the most common victims of family conflicts irrespective of race, religion, and social status. Although racial and social aspects are insignificant in determining the rates of killings, they should also be considered in providing solutions and recommendations to the problem. Additionally, the problem of domestic homicide is directly associated with mental and psychological disorders among domestic offenders because the increased rate of killings are explained by insufficient examination and detection of individuals with any possible deviations. With regard to the above-described problem, a number of solutions and recommendations could be provided to reduce the number of domestic killings and suicides.

Before taking preventive measures, it is necessary to delve into the scope of the problems such as health-related issues. The point is that the majority of domestic offenders are individuals with psychological deviations, which were predetermined by family problems. Additionally, these individuals often come from dysfunctional families. Therefore, counselors and social workers should pay close attention to problematic children living in incomplete or dysfunctional families to help them accommodate in a social environment. They should arrange individual sessions for these children as well as watch how they act in a social environment with children from normal families. Additionally, counselors should also constantly cooperate with the parents from dysfunctional families to define the nature of psychological deviations as well as help these parents cope with the problem.

Second, in order to help children avoid the threats of domestic violence, the country should work on developing voluntary organizations that would help women anonymously. For instance, women may join a group of people with similar problems to learn the rules of self-defense as well as principles of handling aggressive and uncontrollable partners. In response to this solution, the government should encourage the law enforcement agencies to cooperate with these organization in attempt to detect any form of violence displayed against the victim to arrest these individuals in a timely manner or provide the corresponding treatment.

Third, estimating the history of homicide, it is necessary to explore how traditions and customs affect families, as well as why women from ethnic minorities are reluctant to address the respective institutions. In order to solve this problem, it is necessary to invest more money in research on the cultural trends analysis of family environment in African, Mexican, and Chinese communities living in the United States. In such a way, it is possible to develop a rich psychological profile of these families and work out alternative ways to face the challenge. In addition to these scientific investigations, the government should establish contact with other countries at the international level to show the population that the problem of domestic violence is currently discussed and that cultural acceptance of sexual abuse and beating is heavily criticized all over the countries. The solution may increase the awareness of women and encourage them to address law enforcement agencies. Finally, the analysis of psychological problems should be carried out at a deeper level. Specifically, healthcare providers should be more concerned with the cases of schizophrenia and other disorders and inform the police departments about these cases.

The main strength of the first decisions lies in the possibility to reduce the number of cases of domestic homicide in the future as well as improve the situation in terms of the quality of healthcare services. However, the main drawback of the recommendation is the failure to solve the problem immediately because it has a long-term plan. Although this decision is time-consuming, it will definitely bring in positive changes to security and protection of the U.S. citizens. The second solution is also beneficial because little concern is expressed about women from ethnic minority groups. Although the formation of such voluntary organizations might imply significant costs, the government should be aware of the positive outcomes of this program for the welfare of the country in general. Moreover, establishing relations with other organizations all over the world can strengthen the social, political, and economic reputation of the country. Finally, the third solution seems to be the most realistic and manageable because it is aimed at improving the quality of healthcare. Nurses should be more experienced in diagnosing patients with any psychological problems and defining whether these patients constitute a serious threat to society.

With regard to the above-presented analysis of solutions and recommendations, it should be concluded that the first and the last solutions are the most efficient ones to reduce the number of domestic homicide and identify the potential provide of domestic offender. In particular, integrating these solutions in a specific governmental program could significantly contribute to the problem resolution. Both nurses and social workers could cooperate to develop new opportunities for improving communication channels for victims of domestic violence.


A detailed analysis of the domestic homicide dynamics, including historical outline, social contexts, psychological dimensions, and cultural aspects, have led to the development of a resolution plan that will imply the formation of voluntary organizations in which social workers and healthcare providers will work with problematic children. This solution should not imply significant costs since there are many identical organizations whose functions could be slightly upgraded and modified. For instance, counselors in school should pay attention to the way problematic children perceive the concept of family and relations to identify the likelihood of this children becoming domestic offenders. The counselors should also encourage parents from dysfunctional families to attend general meetings and take an active part in educating their children. In order to improve the effectiveness of the program, it is necessary to involve the law enforcement mechanisms into the assessment of psychological aspects of domestic crimes. In such a way, it will be possible to settle a powerful mechanism for preventing and reducing the cases of killings in home. Finally, providing medical assistance and treatment to the individuals displaying antisocial behavior should be a priority because some individuals commit murders without the intention to kill but because of the inability to cope with aggression or other psychological disorders.

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