Definitions of domestic homicide shape data collection and prevention efforts and, consequentially, our understanding of these crimes. This chapter explores issues related to defining domestic homicide in the context of our work with the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP). We discuss selected case studies to demonstrate what cases are included and excluded in this work and to highlight the importance of understanding our narrower, project-based definition in relation to the larger context of domestic violence-related homicides and deaths. By considering how victims and perpetrators are identified when defining domestic violence, we illustrate how undercounting of domestic homicide may occur, contributing to the “dark figure” of domestic homicide. Furthermore, we argue that cases from certain groups, such as Indigenous women in Canada, may be systematically excluded from definitions of domestic homicide. In reflecting on these issues and cases, our aim is to advance calls for consistency and transparency in definitions to allow for stronger research across jurisdictions (Fairbairn, Jaffe, & Dawson, 2017; Jaffe et al., 2017), as well as to support efforts of initiatives such as domestic violence death review committees (DVDRCs) in their work to prevent domestic homicides.
Fairbairn, J., Sutton, D., Dawson, M. and Jaffe, P. (2019), "Putting Definitions to Work: Reflections from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations", Victim, Perpetrator, or What Else? (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 67-82. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1537-466120190000025005
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