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Do domestic homicide perpetrators share common traits?

There are few things in this world more tragic than family violence homicides. One would hope such incidents would never happen, but sadly, there are plenty of individuals here in Texas and in the United States who have lost their lives at the hands of a partner or family member. One statistic that illustrates this is that it is estimated that homicides in which a woman is killed by her male partner or ex-partner make up one-third of all homicides against women in the United States.

Thus, finding ways to help prevent and stop domestic homicides is remarkably important. There are many things that could have the potential to help with such prevention. One is if ways are found to effectively predict when the chances of a family violence homicide occurring are particularly high.

A recent study raises the possibility that an individual's psychological and mental traits could hold clues as to how likely the person is to commit a family violence homicide.

In the study, researchers looked at the forensic and psychological profiles of individuals charged/convicted of a domestic homicide. The researchers found some common threads among these profiles.

Psychological and mental traits that the study found tended to be common among the individuals include:

  • Lower intelligence levels.
  • Higher amounts of cognitive impairment.
  • Higher severities of mental illness.

The study also found that the profiles of these individuals differed quite a bit from the profiles of perpetrators of non-domestic homicides.

One wonders if studies like this one will eventually lead to ways of predicting higher domestic homicide risks. Being able to have an accurate list of domestic violence homicide warning signs could help police with figuring out when special interventions might be necessary and help individuals know when they might be in a situation where they should be seeking to protect themselves from a partner or family member through legal steps.

How good of a job do you think government and law enforcement agencies here in Texas do when it comes to the prevention of domestic homicides? What things do you think would help the most in improving such prevention? Do you think studies like the above-mentioned one will lead to insights that will help on this front?

Source: Northwestern University, "Predicting Who Will Murder His Wife or His Family," Marla Paul, August 25, 2015

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