In a feminist text on women, violence and the response of the public services it is essential that there is an account of violent women. Although the numbers of such women appear to be small, reactions to them tend to be disproportionately strong, and negatively influence their treatment, especially within the public services. In providing an account of violent women, this chapter examines the gendered assumptions of violent behaviour, and explores the extent to which these have led to the differential treatment of such women. The chapter argues that one group of violent women, those who kill, provide a clear example of the consequences of such gendered assumptions about violent behaviour. Such women serve as a salutory postscript to the rest of this book. Women who kill are most often those with no history of violent behaviour, but who have resorted to killing after prolonged abuse from male partners. The circumstances in which they kill, the perception of their behaviour and the standards against which they are judged, illustrate key issues relating to the treatment of all violent women.
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