Of lovers who hate until they can kill the spouse

If your partner threatens to kill you, better to take that warning seriously

In Summary

• The nastiest situations happen 'not among enemies but among so-called lovebirds'


Why do people who were in love end up killing each other? What happened to the bliss that united them in the first place, often with children as the product of that relationship?

Looking at the plethora of recent domestic violence cases, it is baffling how hatred drives spouses into destructive actions. How do people who shared intimate moments, long conversations and even jointly invested in business come to hate each other? At what point does one of them decide killing is the solution? 

Reasons for the violence vary. Illicit affairs, money problems, disillusionment with the relationship and the role of in-laws have been mentioned in what is officially described as 'Intimate Partner Violence'. Disputes over child custody and property feature prominently.

"Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. At any moment, it can flip the other way. One can become the other," Indian guru Jagadish Vasudev has noted. Better known as the Sadhguru, Jagadish advises couples not to be misled by emotions, which he describes as nothing more than short-lived flowers. Rational thought is the best way to navigate relationships.

"Emotions cannot replace a working brain. The nastiest situations happen not among enemies but among the so-called lovebirds," Sadhguru says.

Sometimes, a partner turns the violence inwards by committing suicide to punish the spouse. The worst are cases in which a spouse kills the children to create lifelong mental anguish for the surviving partner.

In a brief on intimate partner violence, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says abusive people generally have a history of violence. This includes previous abusive relationships, personality disorders, witnessing or experiencing violence as a child and living in a society where violence is acceptable.

Alcohol and drugs make abusers more violent. Getting married at a young age is also a contributing factor because the couple lacks the emotional maturity to handle the ups and downs of marriage.


The causes of intimate partner violence are confirmed by the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC), a government organisation based in Nairobi. NCRC links intimate partner violence to childhood emotional trauma, psychological factors, the breakdown of societal institutions supporting marriage and the use of intoxicating substances. In the case of violence perpetrated by men, NCRC says traditional views about masculinity are to blame. Men who carry such beliefs do not like it when women assert themselves.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals in its report that men who kill their intimate partners have a markedly different personality compared to men who kill outside relationships (such as robbers). Men who inflict violence on their wives tend to have stable jobs and often have no criminal background. They kill out of jealousy, possessiveness, fear of abandonment and mental illness.

Women have also been implicated in several violent domestic incidents. Evidence shows that women who killed their male partners did it in self-defence, to punish an unfaithful husband or to gain full control of family property. Others eliminated their husbands to get into another relationship. Childhood emotional trauma and mental illness affect women as much as they affect men.

Are love and hate two separate emotions or are they the same thing expressed differently? In an article titled 'The Deeper the Love, the Deeper the Hate,' relationship experts agree that love and hate coexist in romantic relationships. When in love with someone, it is possible to hate certain things about him or her and still have a great relationship with that person despite their follies.

If you are no longer in love with your partner, feelings of hate grow stronger than those of love. When a romantic relationship is destroyed, the feelings of love consequently turn into hate. Hate is a reflection of love and a feeling of sorrow. This is why people experience such pain upon betrayal in a romantic relationship.

The key to staying safe, logically speaking, is to identify violent persons before getting into a romance with them. Below is a compilation from various sources of signs to look for.

1. History of violence: Your lover keeps getting into fights with family, neighbours, workmates and even with random strangers. He has once been arrested for beating up someone. Sooner or later, that violence will be unleashed on you. A history of violence is a red flag in a potential spouse. People who express support for domestic violence are likely to become violent in future.

2. Emotional abuse: Nobody accidentally uses cruel, hurtful or disparaging words. It is a deliberate tactic aimed at belittling or degrading the victim. Watch out for people who demean others in your presence. That verbal abuse will someday be directed at you. Don't tolerate insults with excuses such as "he was drunk," or, "she is going through a hard time."

3. Social isolation: Abusers want to control their victims by monitoring their movements and who they talk to. They want the romantic "catch" to always be with them. At first, it seems nice having a partner who wants to take you everywhere. Victims eventually find they cannot visit family and friends. The perpetrator may present him or herself as the only person who cares for the victim.

4. Controlling behaviour: You can't dress as you wish, you can't plan with your money, and you can't attend religious services because the abuser wants you all to him or herself. Your career or business is sabotaged and your valuable belongings go missing. The person engages in manipulative behaviour, such as sulking and giving the "silent treatment".

5. Sexual abuse: Each partner in a marriage has a right to say yes or no to sex. Unwanted or coerced sexual activity is the beginning of abuse. Selfishness is the nature of abusers; all they care about is satisfying their desires regardless of the spouse's condition.

It is not always easy walking out of an abusive relationship. Lots of women in abusive relationships are financially dependent on the man. Men generally earn more than women but prefer staying in abusive relationships to avoid being ridiculed for not taming the woman. Where children are involved, victims of abuse choose to stay to give the young ones a semblance of normality.

One thing is for sure: if your partner threatens to kill, better to take that warning seriously.

Image: OZONE
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