TW for the book: domestic violence, homicide, suicide, rape
This book is without a doubt one of the most infuriating things I have ever read, and also my favorite read of the year so far.
I have an amazing friend who works in victim support. She and I were lamenting how often women become victims of domestic violence, even when there is a sea of red flags, such as when 13 women report the same man to police for stalking. (My. Blood. Is. Boiling.) My friend recommended this book, and I immediately went out and bought it, then put it aside as a ‘reward’ for after I finished a few books that had been languishing in my to-read pile for 4+ years.
Jane Monckton-Smith is a forensic criminologist and former police officer who has done decades of research into domestic violence. Through that research, she came up with a clear, 8-stage timeline that can predict homicide in domestic violence. In this book, she outlines those stages using examples from her research, and draws from conversations with victims, families, and perpetrators to shed a light on the relationship between abuser and abused, as well as how coercive control can make it difficult for victims to get the help they need. While the research is meticulous, the writing itself is very accessible, and Monckton-Smith includes examples of changes that can (and should!) be made to legislation and policing to help prevent domestic violence and resulting homicide.
What stood out the most for me in this book was how easily and persistently society and police turn a blind eye to domestic violence. So often, when men murder their partners it is explained away as a crime of passion, but what this book shows is just how preventable it is, if we put the right systems and support in place, and listened to victims.
A harrowing but essential read.