What is Intimate Partner Homicide?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2020
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Intimate partner homicide occurs when someone murders a person with whom he has shared an intimate relationship. For example, a person’s intimate partner may be his spouse or ex-spouse, the parent of his children, or a lover with whom he has cohabited. The term intimate partner may also apply to people who are dating each other or have been dating partner’s in the past. The common types of violence committed by intimate partners include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and threats and harassment. Intimate partner homicide is the most severe type, as it ends the victim’s life.

There are various types of homicide, including crimes in which the murderer does not know his victim or when the victim and the perpetrator were mere acquaintances. Unfortunately, however, some people are victimized by those they love and trust most, such as a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Others may become victims long after their relationships with the murderer has ended. Both men and women can be victims of intimate partner homicide. Women, however, are more likely to become victims of this crime than men.


Often, people express surprise when a seemingly normal individual murders his intimate partner. There usually are warning signs of impending violence, however. For example, if a person has a history of physically or sexually abusing his intimate partner, this may increase the likelihood that he may exhibit homicidal behavior one day. Likewise, if the person has a history of stalking, harassing, or threatening behavior, this may be a warning sign as well. Even emotional abuse may prove to be a warning sign, as abuse that begins verbally often escalates into physical violence.

Abuse of alcohol or drugs sometimes foreshadows intimate partner homicide, as a person who has a history of abusing alcohol or drugs may be less in control of his behavior and more likely to behave violently with his partner. Heightened risk of this type of crime doesn’t only exist when an individual has an alcohol or drug abuse problem, however. This type of crime may also occur spontaneously when an individual becomes drunk or high on drugs, even if he does not have a history of substance abuse. Additionally, the possession of firearms may also increase the risk of intimate partner homicide, as may the onset of a stressful time, such as if a partner loses his job and has trouble finding new employment.


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