Marital homicides: what is the profile of the perpetrators?

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The number of spousal homicides recorded by the police and the gendarmerie increased by 14% between 2020 and 2021. The latest study by the Ministry of the Interior, entitled “Violent deaths within the couple”, lists 143 deaths due to violence within the couple in 2021, including 122 women and 21 men, to which must be added the 12 children who died in the context of a couple’s conflict. “The year 2021 thus marks a setback compared to the sharp drop in domestic homicides observed in 2020. The 143 domestic homicides recorded in 2021 correspond more to the level of the number of violent deaths within the couple observed before the Covid-19 epidemic. 19. “, observes the ministry. In the majority of cases, perpetrators and victims lived as a couple under the same roof.

In line with reports from previous years, the vast majority of perpetrators are men (86%). Their median age is 52. “Perpetrators of violent death within a couple, aged between 30 and 49, represent 37% of all perpetrators; while those aged 70 and over make up a 25% share. “says the report. For the older ones, the illness or old age of the victim is the main pretext for acting out. The authors are also 43% to commit suicide or to try after the death of their partner: “46 suicides and 15 attempts are recorded. They concern almost exclusively men (60 men for 1 woman). The women perpetrators of spousal homicides were mostly between 40 and 49 years old at the time of the incident. Nearly half of them had experienced violence from their partner.

The perpetrators of spousal homicides are mostly of French nationality; only 20 authors are of foreign nationality, and only 10 couples are concerned by the case where the two spouses are not French. Mirroring the victims, perpetrators who are unemployed or retired are the most numerous.

If the consumption of alcohol, drugs and narcotics is down compared to 2020, in 34% of cases, “the survey highlights the presence of at least one substance likely to alter the discernment of the victim and or of the author at the time of the facts”. However, in 66% of cases, the perpetrators did not consume alcohol before killing their victim and do not usually drink it. The share of narcotics is lower, since “in 79% of cases, the perpetrators did not use narcotics at the time of the events and do not use them habitually either. Even more marginal is the consumption of drugs: 92% of perpetrators and victims have not taken any.