Death by numbers: Chilling picture of domestic terrorism

NEVER has a set of statistics painted such a sad and grim image of domestic terrorism in Queensland.

The State Coroner's office handed over its annual report to Parliament this week and inside it the chilling reality of family violence in our state unfolds across pages 13 to 16.

Headed Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit - just four pages reinforce what experts know already - women are the primary victims and men are the main perpetrators.

Examining eight years of murders and murder-suicides across Queensland, the three-person unit found almost half of all homicides had domestic violence links.

Between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013, 180 - or 45% of - murders involved an intimate partner or family member.

A total of 167 offenders were responsible for these deaths.

Eighty-one - or 79.41% - of the victims were female and 137 offenders - or 82.03% - were male.

Just four homicides were committed by a male and female offender.

The unit breaks the death into three areas types of relationships - intimate partner, family and bystander.

Married, de facto, parenting, divorced and separated couples fall under the intimate tag; family covers biological or by-marriage relatives; and bystander refers to a familial context where the perpetrator is unrelated - for example the husband of an ex-spouse.

The researchers found that 102 of the deaths - or 56.67% - happened during an intimate relationship - 81 of the victims were female and all were killed by a current or former male partner.

All but three of the 21 male victims (85%) were killed by women.

The research shows women were more likely to be killed by a current or former partner and men were more likely to be killed by a relative.

On the flip-side, family relationships resulted in more male deaths than female deaths, with 40 male victims and 30 female victims during the research period.

Bystander murders claimed eight lives and murder suicide accounted for 24 of the 180 deaths.

The unit also looked at the role previous violence played in the deaths by examining cases from a different period - January 1, 2006 through to December 31, 2012.

It found there was evidence of earlier violence in 60 of 89 of the intimate partner-related deaths and none of the female victims was a known domestic violence perpetrator.

The violence escalated in the 12 months before tragedy hit in 40% of the cases and in 57% of cases the offender had a criminal history.

The report also shows separation can increase the risk of death - of the 71 women killed by their male partner, 31 had left the perpetrator.

In contrast only three males were killed during a period of relationship separation.

Controlling behaviours such as restricting access to money and social networks was displayed by the offending partners in 36.11% of cases.

Jealousy and obsessive behaviours - including accusations of infidelity - were present in 30.56% of cases where women were victims, but only one female offender had this kind of history against a male victim.

Domestic violence academic Molly Dragiewicz said the unit's findings could influence the way governments and other organisations approached prevention.

"These are pretty standard and they are not surprising … the information is really good for prevention," the QUT Crime and Justice Research Centre director said of the statistics.

"They are for example similar to numbers in NSW, proportionally speaking.

"It would be fantastic if the police, the courts and also social services of all sorts expended 45% of all their time and resources to dealing with this 45% of the most violent crimes."


Between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013:

45% of Queensland murders involved an intimate partner or family member.

There were 167 offenders.

79.41% of the victims were female

82.03% of offenders were male.

SOURCE: Office of the State Coroner