Differentiating Intimate Partner Homicide From Other Homicide: A Swedish Population-Based Study of Perpetrator, Victim, and Incident Characteristics

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Abstract

Objective: Intimate partner homicides (IPHs) continue to be widespread and constant over time when compared with other types of homicide. Yet research addressing IPH particularly within the European context, is limited. The question of whether perpetrators of partner-related violence differ from offenders of general violence has been raised in research. In light of inconsistent findings and ongoing debate, the aim was to identify sociodemographic and criminological characteristics in perpetrators and victims of IPH, and to determine whether they differ from other types of homicides in Sweden. Method: This retrospective study was based on national data of all male-perpetrated homicides (N = 211) in Sweden committed between 2007 and 2009. Characteristics of IPH (n = 46) and non-IPH (n = 165) were compared and analyzed by conducting bivariate and multiple logistic regressions. Results: Perpetrators of IPH were older, more likely to be employed, less likely to have been convicted, and had less persistent criminal histories. Perpetrators of IPH were also less likely to be intoxicated at the time of the offense; nonetheless, intoxication was a common feature among victims and perpetrators in both groups. Further, perpetrators of partner-related homicides are substantially more likely to commit suicide. Conclusion: The present study illustrates critical differences between IPH and non-IPH perpetrators. As hypothesized, IPH perpetrators were less socially disadvantaged, less likely to have past criminal offenses, and more likely to commit suicide following the homicidal act. This study demonstrates that perpetrators of IPH constitute a separate subtype and, conceptually, ought to be treated separately.

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