Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

A cycle of violence: when a woman’s murder is called ‘understandable’ by Laura Bates

I can think of many words to describe the murder of a woman by her own husband. “Understandable” is not one of them.

Yet this is the word that Dr Max Pemberton chose to use when he weighed in on Lance Hart’s recent murder of his wife, Claire, and their 19-year old-daughter, Charlotte. Writing in the Daily Mail, and referencing the recent breakdown of the Harts’ marriage, he said:

Of course, such men are often motivated by anger and a desire to punish the spouse.

But while killing their partner as an act of revenge may be understandable, for a man to kill his children (who are innocent bystanders in a marital breakdown) is a very different matter.

I believe it is often a twisted act of love, as the man crassly believes that the crisis in their lives is so great that the children would be better off dead.

In this short extract, Pemberton describes the “understandable” murder by a man of his own wife as a “very different matter” to his killing his child – an “innocent bystander” – implying guilt on the part of the wife. He seems to suggest that, by ending their marriage, Claire had – at least in part – brought her death upon herself. Later referring to men who kill their own children, he goes on to use the phrase “act of love”, implying that perpetrators of such crimes are overtaken by passion – that such men should not necessarily be held fully responsible.  ...


This article written by Laura Bates was first published in The Guardian on 26.7.16. You can find the full text of the article here.

Inspired by our participation with the Write to End Violence Against Women awards organised by Zero Tolerance, we are now collecting examples of good journalism about domestic and sexual violence and abuse to make it clear that it is possible to write about DSVA without resorting to myths, misrepresentations, minimisation and victim blaming.


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One thought on “A cycle of violence: when a woman’s murder is called ‘understandable’ by Laura Bates

  • Hecuba says:

    Excellent that Laura Bates has debunked mens’ common lie that women are 110% responsible for the actions and behaviour of men! Especially men who enact their pseudo male sex right to murder their so-called ‘female sexual property’ – aka their wife!!

    Men have always contradicted themselves by claiming the male sex are the ones who have rationality and autonomy whereas females are supposedly ruled by their emotions and incapable of any rational/logical thought!! However when males decide to enact their pseudo male sex right to murder a woman immediately the male perpetrator claims ‘I was provoked by my wife; she nagged me; she said she was leaving me or I loved her so much I didn’t want to lose my female sexual property!’

    Women do not force/compel men to murder them – rather men enact their male choice and their male agency and do so knowing their male supremacist legal system and all too often their male controlled medical system will justify/excuse/exonerate them of cold bloodedly murdering a woman because her sex is female!

    The question never asked concerning those males who murder their wives/children is why didn’t the male just leave the home??? If he was finding it intolerable living with his female partner then he should have just left!