When a battering relationship results in a homicide, attention is naturally focused on the final murderous encounter, but that final act is the last, not the only, homicidal encounter in a battering relationship. This chapter is designed to explain a new social interaction perspective for understanding the battering relationship as a long-term, ongoing homicidal process that is very likely to end in the death of one of the parties.
We propose that to understand the battering relationship and its escalation to homicide, we must examine the entire history and context of the relationship. Focusing only on a final homicidal encounter disadvantages the victim because it ignores the batterer’s initiation of the acute violence and his escalation of the violence in order to maintain complete control of both the relationship and the victim. Thus, it unfairly portrays the context of the battering victim’s survival efforts. To more fairly and completely explore that context, we seek to understand the cultural, social, structural, and situational forces, as well as the interaction process, that assist the batterer in maintaining the battering relationship and result in the escalation to homicide.
As noted in the previous chapter, we borrow concepts from three established theoretical perspectives to develop this new social interaction theory on battering. First, while accepting the potential variability in Walker’s