In the 12 months since the first lockdown, at least 112 women in the UK have been killed by men. Killers such as Anthony Williams are often treated sympathetically by the courts because the men claim to have been adversely affected by the pandemic, meaning that judges and jurors go soft on them in the same way they take it easy on men who say they only killed their partners because she nagged or cheated. Many of these men who commit fatal acts of violence have put women through hell for years, if not decades, before killing.
But as the survivors of domestic abuse know, a woman unlucky enough to be trapped with an abusive man will often face the worst of it if she manages to escape. These men typically stalk and harass the women who have the courage to leave, continuing their sadistic punishment and control by pursuing their victim.
Those who speak for the murdered women have long argued that such homicides are the easiest to predict. Take the insightful book by criminologist Jane Monckton-Smith that lays out the pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour consistently adopted by abusive men. ‘These men collect victims. They are repeat offenders and don’t necessarily start off using extreme violence,’ says Monckton-Smith. ‘They escalate, which is why we need to warn women about them.’
Feminist campaigners against domestic abuse have long been pressuring the Home and Justice Secretaries to consider creating a register for stalkers and serial abusers of women. This would result in there being a statutory duty forcing serial offenders to be put on a national register and closely monitored. This measure would make much more sense than increased CCTV or streetlights as a means of protecting women from violent men.