Conventional wisdom suggests that women usually kill their spouses in self defence or as a final, desperate reaction to chronic battery, the burning-bed syndrome that is sometimes cited as a defence in murder trials. A new Canadian study, however, suggests that barely a quarter of husband-killers are victims of domestic abuse, less than half suffer from any identified psychological problem, and fewer still have had trouble with police.
The majority of the slayings – perpetrated by knife, gun and
strangulation — appear generally unheralded, suggests the analysis of 20
years of Quebec homicide files.
"Women rarely gave a warning before killing their mates,” concluded
the study, co-authored by Dr. Dominique Bourget, a forensic psychiatrist
at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. “In the vast majority of
cases of women who killed their mates, there were very few indicators
that might have signalled the risk and helped predict the violent,
Women who end their partners’ lives have been an under-examined
group, the researchers note, given they represent a minority of the
total partner homicides. Almost 80% of the 738 spousal killings in
Canada between 2000 and 2009 were committed by men, who the study said
are also responsible almost exclusively for bloody massacres where
children, as well as the partner, are murdered in one act.