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Home violence kills… together with within the type of suicides

A clearly defined context

Domestic violence would then be the last straw, without it being fair to the perpetrator to bear sole responsibility for the suicide. Indeed, a violent partner cannot be held responsible for the painful ordeals (loss of a loved one, childhood experiences of violence, etc.) that have marked their spouse’s life, especially if they predate their encounter. It’s true, to a certain extent. However, what needs to be kept in mind is the context of intimacy and control in which the protagonists develop. Intimacy because the perpetrator, not being (necessarily) responsible for it, is generally aware of the victim’s fragility. Control because not only does he know about it, but he feeds on it to better establish his rule. Painful ordeals that have been experienced and mourned before – for example a miscarriage – are used as a weapon to better press where it hurts: “Even nature knows that you would not be a good mother”. Any event that has contributed to the weakening of the person is used by the abusive (ex)spouse to better prove their dominance and undermine the psychological integrity of the victim. It should be noted, however, that women who are victims of domestic violence and who end their lives or attempt to do so may not have experienced all life pathways prior to their relationship that would have debilitated them.

Analyze case by case

Above all, it should be borne in mind that the perpetrator of spousal violence very often acts directly and purposefully on the above risk factors for suicide when his violence induces mental disorders in his victim (sometimes to the point of committal to a psychiatric ward, which the authors in order to as insane) when he forces her to quit her job or undermine her professional reputation in order to better control her, or when he isolates her from her surroundings to make her even more dependent and tighten her grip. In other words, domestic violence itself inevitably affects certain risk factors. It remains the responsibility of the perpetrator of violence, in this case domestic violence, to assess the suicide or attempted suicide after the acts of violence in the individual case and, if the causal connection has been established, to reassess the corresponding penalty required (a draft law that proposes “Engaged”. suggest doubling the minimum penalties for bullying if it leads to suicide – what about attempted suicides, which Sciensano also says are more common among women?). We could also explore the possibility of ordering support from specialized services for perpetrators in certain cases to prevent recidivism.

In the French penal code since 2020

If ‘forced suicide’, as it has been called in France since its introduction into the Penal Code in 2020, is a difficult phenomenon to quantify, studies conducted in the UK and France estimate that the female suicide rate is linked to domestic violence around 12.5% ​​can be attributed. As part of the Grenelle on domestic violence in France, the cooperative of independent experts Psytel estimated that in 2018 217 women committed suicide as a result of suffering domestic violence. A number that far exceeds the 121 murders of women recorded this year. And in Belgium? The non-profit Movement for Equality between Women and Men (MEFH) and Psytel estimate that for every 43 murders recorded, there would be 52 forced suicides. We can see how important it is to take stock of indirect femicides (and thus suicides in particular) in order to keep the figures objectifying the lethality of spousal violence (and violence against women and gender minorities more generally) as close as possible to reality and no longer be underestimated.

Also consider suicide attempts

The downside at this stage is that communications surrounding the law do not mention attempted suicide, which is problematic when specifically aimed at preventing femicide. While the text obviously mentions attempts at intimate or non-intimate femicide or gender-based murder, it seems to ignore attempted suicide. It would certainly be paradoxical to speak of an “attempted indirect femicide”, but the text should definitely integrate the issue of suicide attempts, particularly in relation to risk assessment and management tools.

Finally, a word of caution is in order regarding a possible merging of two very distant realities. Suicidal blackmail (“if you leave me, I’ll kill myself”) is one of the strategies used by perpetrators of domestic violence to keep their partners under control. Sometimes, especially after a woman’s murder, the perpetrator takes his own life. If any loss of life is dramatic, in no case can a symmetry be established between a victim’s suicide and the perpetrator’s suicide, a desperate act most commonly committed after the victim has left, weakened or unable to hold on to them is unbearable. In one case, the suicide occurs because the person no longer knows how to escape the violence; in the other, suicide takes place because the loss of control over the other (and the associated feared feeling of abandonment) is experienced as suffering. This fundamental distinction should therefore be included in the training of judges and police officers, so that a legal mechanism designed to better protect victims cannot turn against them.

*Signer:

The collective against domestic violence and exclusion,

Solidarity women La Louvière and,

The movement for equality between women and men.

ACRF – Rural Women ASBL

Amnesty International Belgium-French Section

AWSA-Be Arab Women’s Solidarity Association – Belgium

barricade

break the silence

Caravan for Peace and Solidarity

home legal

Women’s Center for Continuing Education

Louise Michel Center

Center Yvoir “Pierre Bleue” – Red Cross

St. Louis Female-Male Circle

CERE (Children’s Competence and Resource Center)

Women’s collective from Louvain-la-Neuve

OXO collective

Council of Francophone Women in Belgium

Written Bodies

You Without Limits ASBL

FCPC (Family Planning and Counseling Centers Association)

Federation of Pluralistic Family Planning Centers

Federation of Shelters and Services for the Homeless

Lay Association of Family Planning Centers

women and health

FILE (Federation of Local Initiatives for Children)

Anne Marie Lizin Foundation

gaff

madder

JUMP

Kupperberg Deborah, feminist activist

The small island

La Clairière (welcome house)

The Green Street House

La Dew (Accommodation)

La Traille

The voice of women

The “37”, family planning center

The click

The world after women

The watch mothers ASBL

Reception center for the homeless (women and children)

Maison Marie-Louise (reception center and housing association)

Fernand Philippe Kindergarten

Paul Henricot Motherhouse

plural house

Feminist Observatory on Violence Against Women

Pay for your shoot

Civic platform for a respectful birth

PluriEl women’s platform

Centers for resources specializing in domestic violence

Work out

Sofélia – The militant federation of solidary family planning centers

Soralia

Synergy Wallonia for equality between women and men

women university

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