Public Reactions to Newspaper Reports on Intimate Partner Violence on Older Women

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Framing intimate partner violence in late life: Public reactions to newspaper reports

Abstract

Objective: The increasing media attention given to intimate partner violence (IPV) has helped shape public attitudes and perceptions of IPV victims as young and vulnerable women. The purpose of this study was to investigate public responses to newspaper articles about IPV incidents among older women (i.e. aged 55 plus). Method: A qualitative exploratory design was used to inductively investigate frequent news readers’ reactions to newspaper articles depicting spousal homicide among older adults. Fifty participants were interviewed and an inductive thematic analysis was conducted to generate main themes from participant responses. Results: Overall, the findings revealed three themes among participant reactions: Emotional responses to the articles, personal biases, and quality of article. In general, mixed emotions were expressed in response to the incident overall; However, physical and mental health details elicited stronger emotions towards the situation and the individuals involved. A personal connection to the story, and/or prior assumptions about older couples also shaped opinions towards the perpetrator and the crime. Lastly, the credibility of the articles did not appear to be impacted by journalist biases or omission of incident details. Conclusion: The media’s framing of IPV incidents in newspapers can greatly shape public perceptions and attitudes towards its prevalence and acceptability as a social issue. As newspaper articles’ credibility does not seem to be impacted by journalistic biases or incomplete detail reporting, service providers and policy makers must work with reporters to ensure incidents are framed to enhance public recognition and understanding of IPV among older couples.

The increasing media attention that is given to the issue of women experiencing violence by their intimate partners has helped shift public perceptions of the issue from a private individual matter to a public health concern. While this has resulted in greater community involvement in raising awareness, creating resources, and advocating for policy changes, victims are commonly framed as vulnerable, young women who are in need of protection, leaving older and able female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) overlooked.1 Indeed, how IPV incidents in late life are framed within the media may greatly shape public attitudes and perceptions toward this social problem.

Media Portrayal of IPV in Late Life

Overall, IPV incidents in late life are often reported within the larger context of elder abuse using gender-neutral language, as episodic, and focus on the individual-caregiver interaction.2,3 Incidents are rarely framed as domestic violence, significantly downplaying the dependency and powerlessness of the victim in opposite-sex relationships.4 In addition, evidence suggests that newspapers often provide greater coverage for more serious forms of elder abuse (e.g. gruesome and shocking murders against the vulnerable).5,6 Furthermore, perpetrators are most often described as caregivers, while victims are portrayed as frail, self-neglecting, vulnerable older adults.2,6 More importantly, the poor health of the victim and resulting caregiver stress are often cited as reasons for the violence, which evidence has suggested can lead members of the general public to express greater empathy for the perpetrator while significantly downplaying the severity of the violence.5,7

Framing Theory

In general, framing theory suggests that how we interpret and understand social phenomena is greatly shaped by how the mass media portrays it.8 For example, newspapers can greatly shape our awareness, perceptions, and attitudes towards issues such as IPV in late life by selectively choosing what information is conveyed, how ideas are presented (e.g. episodic vs. thematically), and what topics are discussed (e.g. elder abuse, domestic violence).8-10 Indeed, how stories of IPV are framed by newspapers can greatly influence our understanding of their prevalence, context, and to whom we assign responsibility.9

The purpose of this project was to analyze how commonly held public perceptions of IPV in older women are shaped by newspaper coverage of these incidents. In particular, this paper sought to answer the question: How do members of the general public respond to news about incidents of IPV in late life not identified as domestic violence? Examining readers’ reactions to how victims, perpetrators, and incident details are captured in these news stories of IPV in late life can provide greater insight into how media-framing shapes our awareness, perception and understanding of this issue. Indeed, findings from the current study may uncover ways in which the media can change their framing of IPV incidents in late life to provide more educational information to the public.

Methods

Sample and Recruitment

Potential participants were purposively recruited using online advertisements posted on Toronto’s five most widely-circulated English-language newspapers: The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, 24 Hours Toronto, Metro Toronto, and The National Post.11 Respondents were considered eligible if they are 18 or older, resided in Toronto, read and spoke English, and reported reading the news at least 2-3 times per week. As individuals who rarely read newspapers are unlikely to have their attitudes and perceptions shaped by this form of media, they were excluded from the present study. Lastly, eligible participants were selected for enrolment to obtain representative demographic diversity. Overall, a total of 50 participants were recruited into the study; a sample size similar to previous studies examining public reactions towards other social issues. 12

Design and Procedure

A qualitative exploratory design was used to inductively investigate frequent news readers’ reactions to newspapers’ incident reporting of IPV cases that were not framed as domestic violence.  Potential participants who responded to an advertisement were directed to a preliminary electronic consent form and a brief screening survey. Those who were found eligible to participate were asked to provide their email address and were invited to an in-person interview. Interviews took place within private offices in the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. This provided a neutral and quiet setting for participants to engage with the researcher openly and comfortably. During interview sessions, a brief description of the study objectives and interview process was discussed prior to obtaining informed consent. Participants were then asked to read 2 newspaper articles prior to engaging in a 20-minute in-depth, semi-structured interview and compensated with a $20 honorarium. Lastly, those who expressed distress throughout the discussion of IPV topics were offered referrals for appropriate treatment services upon request. Approval for the study was granted by the Research Ethics Board at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Data Collection and Measures

Screening questionnaire. The online screening survey collected potential participants demographic characteristics such as gender, income, marital status, location, and ethnicity. These demographic characteristics were used to select a diverse sample of eligible participants and no further analysis was conducted using this data. In addition, the frequency with which individuals read the news was assessed by asking potential participants to rate on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Never, 2 = Less than once per month, 3 = About once a week, 4 = 2-3 times per week, 5 = Daily or almost daily) how often they read the newspaper either online or in print.

Selection of news articles. An ongoing study being conducted by the author has revealed that few news articles report on IPV incidents among older women, with available news stories specifically reporting on homicide cases. As a result, 4 homicide news stories from different newspapers posted in 2016-17, that contained no mention of domestic violence were selected for inclusion in the study. It is important to note that newspaper articles were de-identified to minimize participant biases towards specific news outlets and participants were randomly assigned to read 2 of the 4 selected news stories (see Appendix 1 for list of articles). This was done to maintain participant engagement, and to ensure that perceptions of news stories were not a reflection of different reporting styles.

In-person interviews. Interviews were semi-structured to ensure consistency in data collection and that relevant themes were discussed. In general, interview questions were aimed at seeking participants’ attitudes and perceptions towards IPV in late life in response to the read articles. More specifically, the interviewer attempted to elicit discussion in the following areas: (1) prevalence, (2) victim and perpetrator characteristics (3) accuracy of news coverage (4) incident framing (e.g. societal/individual issue), and (5) personal biases and assumptions about older couples. The interview consisted of asking broad questions in order to guide and elicit the participant’s individual perceptions, attitudes and reactions to the articles and IPV in late life more generally. This allowed for reflexive discussion, and the ability to explore additional areas of interest. It is acknowledged that not all participants discussed relevant themes, and thus results were comprised of a combination of different participant views and perceptions (see Appendix 2 for interview guide).

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed using the thematic analysis approach as defined by Braun and Clarke13; a flexible and comprehensive method of analysis. As the main aim of the present study was descriptive, to identify themes and patterns in how readers interpret and perceive news reports of IPV in late life, an inductive thematic analysis was used. In particular, the six processes described by Braun and Clarke13 were employed, and transcribed interviews and field notes were read multiple times in order to become familiar with the data. Subsequently, prevailing ideas that were noted during this process were grouped into “initial codes of interest”, further organizing the data into multiple subsets. Once this was completed, codes were analyzed and collated into broader themes, which then underwent multiple reviews to ensure that they comprehensively represented all of the initial codes generated, thus creating a thematic map of the analysis and allowing for comparisons across the data. This review process was iterative and considered as complete when themes were clearly defined and named. As a result, some codes were not included in the final themes identified.13

Results

Overall, the participants’ reactions to newspaper articles were organized into three themes: emotional response to articles, personal biases, and quality of article.

Emotional Response to Articles

An emergent pattern from the data was the initial emotional reactions individuals expressed towards spousal homicide in older couples: anger, shock, sadness, disappointment, curiosity and disgust. These emotional responses were recurrent topics in each interview, and discussions often circled back to these feelings. More importantly, participants tended to discuss their emotional reactions in response to the “sad situation”, rather than towards the specific individuals involved. Additionally, these mixed emotional responses often culminated in participants expressing a general sense of hopelessness in humankind. One participant summarized:

[My] primary disappointment came from people being able to do this to other people. So [essentially] being disappointed in my fellow man/woman (Jane).

Interestingly, these emotional responses were amplified when participants read news stories that included the added layer of mental/physical health illness, which also evoked feelings of sympathy. Comments included:

It made me more sad to think about these really awful things happening related to mental health illness (Jane).

If one of them had some kind of illness that was debilitating – you know senior citizens don’t have a lot of money…. That would have made me feel even worse (Cassandra).

Nonetheless, while greater sympathy for the situation was expressed in these cases, participants were adamant that mental or physical health illnesses did not “excuse” or explain the homicidal act: it merely elicited stronger emotional reactions to the stories read.

On the other hand, participants were more likely to emotionally respond to the victim or perpetrator if a personal connection was made to the incident. However, this was only achievable when certain characteristics were provided for the incident (e.g. location, demographic details, a personal description of victim/perpetrator). For example, one participant shared the same first name as the victim and recognized the geographical area, resulting in a greater focus and concern for the victim:

Oh my God, poor [victim’s name]…OOPS! [nervous laughter]….They don’t give a lot of details about her. I knew the neighbourhood it happened in (Cassandra).

In contrast, another participant reminisced about their professional experiences with victims of domestic violence upon reading a description of the victim and stated:

I think back to my experiences providing care to those who have undergone domestic violence and I saw similar patterns. I wonder if she knew it was coming, whether she had sought help in the past. [Long pause]. Yeah, it’s sad (Jane).

These findings suggest that the framing of the incident in the article (e.g. omission/selection of specific details) may have played a role in eliciting, shaping and directing emotional responses towards individuals and situations as a whole.

Personal biases

In general, public perceptions of older adults, romantic relationships, and gender equality greatly shaped how participants interpreted the news stories they read. However, similar to how emotional responses were shaped by incident framings, the impact of these personal biases was moderated by how the incident was reported. Overall, older adults are often publically perceived as docile, “unruffled”, and “vulnerable”, possibly contributing to the comments of shock many expressed towards the age of the perpetrators:

I was surprised at the 80 years old [sic]….that surprised me! Maybe it’s, maybe it’s a prejudice that I don’t usually think of older people being that violent (Cassandra).

Nonetheless, the contextual details presented in news articles appeared to either confirm these personal biases, or create a general sense of tension/confusion for the reader. For example, news stories that reported on the mental/physical ailment of a victim/perpetrator tended to shape the participants’ perceptions of the homicide as a mercy-killing. In these situations, perpetrators were described as seeing “no way out” of their situations, or as one participant described it:

There was no other resolution for the person than to commit that act (Cassandra).

On the other hand, in the absence of mental or physical health details, participants became more polarized in their views of the crime, particularly if details about the relationship were provided (e.g. duration, status, and affection). More specifically, participants were unable to reconcile the two opposing ideas of loving someone and murdering them. As one person described it:

Those two concepts don’t sync for me…or maybe it’s a naiveté on my part thinking that love should supersede any kind of hate that promoted any kind of homicidal behaviour (Jane).

In these cases, common discussions included identifying power imbalances between genders, female struggle, speculation that domestic violence may have led up to the homicide, and a general sense that the article lacked sufficient “police details.” Again, the findings suggest that the inclusion of mental/physical health details can shift public perceptions toward crime motives/justification and attitudes towards individual or societal-level issues, which may in turn influence interpretations of future incidents.

Quality of article

None of the participants perceived journalistic “biases” in incident reporting, however all participants agreed that facts were incomplete and that the “article was very short”. Indeed, a common trend discussed was curiosity for other aspects of the story often omitted, such as crime motive and perpetrator characteristics. Furthermore, the inclusion of some facts was questioned by participants, such as incident location, type of residence and neighbour opinions, with one participant stating:

They lived in a duplex. Um, they [the journalist] give the address. I almost wonder why they do that in these articles (Cassandra).

On the other hand, participants also commented on the omission of other facts, such as relationship length, mental health status, and previous IPV incidents, as they felt it would have provided a more comprehensive story. Nonetheless, these facts were not always seen as important for accurate reporting, as one participant summarized:

I think that they didn’t lay out all the facts, I think for obvious or potentially a multitude of reasons. Uh, it would be interesting to hear the perpetrator’s side of the story. Is it completely necessary? Not sure. Is it any of my business? Not sure (Jane).

In other words, members of the general public may be aware that not all facts are presented within newspaper articles that depict IPV incidents in older adults. However, there is a general lack of awareness that omitting details can influence story framing and impact our interpretations of the situation, those involved, and possibly shift our attitudes towards future incidents. For example, participants’ statements regarding their interpretations were often prefaced with comments, such as, “having read about”, “we often read about”, or “when you read about”, suggesting that past articles have the potential to influence current knowledge and perceptions of social issues.

Discussion and Conclusion

In general, emotional reactions were the most common response to the articles, and were amplified when details about the mental/physical health of the victim or perpetrator were reported. Consistent with previous findings, participants demonstrated ignorance towards violence among older couples.7 In contrast to a prior study that found individuals often reassigned responsibility for IPV incidents in older adults to social services, the reporting of physical/mental health details did not change attitudes towards perpetrator responsibility.7 These findings suggest that individuals who comment on news stories online may represent a self-selected subset of the general public, or alternatively that the greater level of anonymity in online posting may perpetuate myths and misinformation. Future research should examine this phenomenon further by investigating public reactions to news stories of IPV in older adults via different modalities (e.g. face-to-face interviews vs. online surveys). More importantly, individuals’ accountability for online comments can be improved by reducing anonymity: For example, by requiring posters to provide their first and last name.

Participants in the current study were not reluctant to discuss the victims in the news stories, unlike previous research findings;7 When prompted, individuals were able to personally connect to a story if specific details were reported. This facilitated discussions around the victim and perpetrator, however personal biases and assumptions also influenced reactions to the incidents. These findings highlight the need for news articles to dispel common misconceptions about older couples and IPV, and supports previous calls for raising awareness for its prevalence.9,14,15 Indeed, public awareness and understanding for IPV among older women is generally limited, as incidents are commonly underreported and minimized by community leaders (e.g. primary health care providers, religious officials).5,16-18

Lastly, the findings revealed that newspaper articles were generally perceived as credible sources, despite their reported lack of completeness. This suggests that frequent readers of newspapers often overlook the omission of details, reporting style, and apparent biases when rating story accuracy, which can further shape attitudes and perceptions towards IPV in older adults.  This is particularly important as previous research has demonstrated that newspapers are perceived by the public as the most credible media outlet, with frequent readership and interest in news stories being the highest predictors of credibility ratings.19,20 Thus, informed service providers and policy makers should work closely with journalists to ensure that IPV incidents in late life are reported comprehensively and as relevant societal issues.5 Overall, the findings suggest that how newspapers frame IPV incidents among older adults can greatly shape our attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of this issue. Future research should examine journalist perspectives and perceptions towards IPV in older adults, as this could provide further insight into what factors shape the media-framing process of these incidents.

While this study was unique in its examination of public reactions to news stories of IPV among older adults, some limitations are noted. First, articles were de-identified to minimize participant biases towards preferred news outlets, however it is possible that credibility ratings and perceptions of IPV in late life may have been greatly changed if sources were provided. Future research should examine this further, as some newspapers may be deemed more credible than others by the general public. Second, it is important to note that reactions to news articles were solicited, and prompts were used to guide interviews; Therefore, caution should be used in interpreting results as representative of the general public. Nevertheless, the findings clearly indicate that media framings of IPV in older adults can greatly shape our perceptions and understanding of this issue, and a greater awareness for IPV in late life is necessary.

References

1. Carlon BE, Worden AP. Attitudes and beliefs about domestic violence: Results of a public opinion survey: I. Definitions of domestic violence, criminal domestic violence and prevalence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2005;20:1197-218.

2. Beard H, Payne BK. The portrayal of elder abuse in the national media. American Journal of Criminal Justice. 2005;29(2):269-84.

3. Payne BK, Appel K, Kim-Appel D. Elder abuse coverage in newpapers: Regional differences and its comparison to child-abuse coverage. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect. 2008;20(3):265-75.

4. Penhale B. Older women, domestic violence and elder abuse: A review of commonalities, differences and shared approaches. Elder Abuse. 2003;15(3/4):163-83.

5. Roberto KA, McPherson MC, Brossoie N. Intimate partner violence in late life: A review of the empirical literature. Violence Against Women. 2014;19(12):1538-58.

6. Mastin T, Choi J, Barboza GE, Post L. Newspapers’ framing of elder abuse: It’s not a family matter. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. 2007;84(4):777-94.

7. Brossoie N, Roberto KA, Barrow KM. Making sense of intimate partner violence in late life: Comments from online news readers. The Gerontologist. 2012;56(6):792-801.

8. Entman RM. Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication. 1993;43:51-8.

9. Carlyle KE, Slater MD, Chakroff JL. Newspaper coverage of intimate partner violence: Skewing representations of risk. Journal of Communication. 2008;58:168-86.

10. Kim S, Scheufele DA, Shanahan JE. Agenda-setting, priming, framing and second-levels in local politics. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. 2002;79:7-25.

11. Newspapers Canada. Circulation Report: Daily Newspapers. Toronto, Canada; 2015.

12. Chapple A, Ziebland S, Simkin S, Hawton K. How people bereaved by suicide perceive newspaper reporting: qualitative study. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2013;203(3):228-32.

13. Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 2006;3:77-101.

14. Wikler D. Personal and social responsibility for health. Ethics and International Affairs. 2002;16:47.

15. Solari S. Patterns of intimate partner homicide-suicide in later life: Strategies for prevention. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2007;2(441-452).

16. Leisey M, Kupstas PK, Cooper A. Domestic violence in the second half of life. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect. 2009;21:141-55.

17. Zink T, Regan S, Goldenhar L, Pabst S, Rinto B. Intimate Partner Violence: What Are Physicians’ Perceptions? Journal of the American Board of Family Practice. 2004;17(5):332-40.

18. Podnicks E, Wilson S. An exploratory study of responses to elder abuse in faith communities. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect. 2003;15(3/4):137-62.

19. Kiousis S. Public Trust or Mistrust? Perceptions of Media Credibility in the Information Age. Mass Communication and Society. 2001;4(4):381-403.

20. Armstrong CL, Collins SJ. Reaching Out: Newspaper Credibility Among Young Adult Readers Mass Communication and Society. 2009;12(1):97-114.

Appendix 1

Article #1 – April 4 2016


Ontario man, 78, charged with murder of wife found dead in burning house: ‘She loved him,’ friend says

BLENHEIM, Ont. — A former Leamington, Ont., woman’s body was found inside a burning house on March 24 and police say it’s not the fire that killed her. Now her 78­year­old husband is facing a first­degree murder  charge.

How Margaret Ardis died is still a mystery, neighbours say. The 73­year­old was a nice, happy lady who loved her husband dearly, said Franca Spreeuwenberg, who lives around the corner from the couple’s Blenheim  home.

“Now she’s gone, which is very sad, because she didn’t deserve it,” Spreeuwenberg told a Windsor Star photographer Sunday. Ardis’s husband Walter was arraigned in Chatham court Friday from an undisclosed  location.

Crews found a working fire inside the split level bungalow and called for assistance from neighbouring fire stations in Merlin and Erieau.

A day later, the Chatham­Kent Police Service posted on its website that its criminal investigation division had taken over the case because a woman’s body was found inside the residence.

The cause of death has not been disclosed, but in a press release the Chatham­Kent Police said a post­mortem done at University Hospital in London found Margaret Ardis’s death “was not fire related.”

Spreeuwenberg said she often travelled with Margaret Ardis, who praised her husband and never fought with him, as far as she knew.

“She loved him. When we were on vacations she said, ‘I miss him.’ It’s time to go home. That’s Margaret,” she said. “That’s how much she loved him.”

Margaret Ardis’ daughter, Susan Reed, lives

in Kingsville but didn’t want to comment.

“It seems you have more information than I do,” Reed said Sunday when contacted by a Windsor Star reporter. “I really don’t have anything to say.”

Chatham­Kent forensic officers and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office spent several days combing through the property collecting evidence.

One exterior wall of the house was reinforced with wooden braces to make it safer for investigators to enter the charred ruins and conduct their examinations inside the scene.

Authorities have not released a cause nor the origin of the fire.

I saw all the smoke and ran

Margeret Ardis was found dead in her Blenheim home last week.

Fire scene tape is wounded around the premises at 58 Nichols Drive in Blenheim, Ontario, Sunday April 3, 2016.

through the backyard and the whole house was on fire

Damage was extensive throughout the main floor area, with broken windows visible on the front lawn. The property loss was set at $150,000.

On Thursday, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Margaret Ardis at her funeral in Blenheim. She is survived by two daughters and several grandchildren.

Police ask anyone with information on this investigation to contact Det. Const. Paul Brophy at 519­436­6600, ext. 207 or Crime Stoppers.

The first­degree charge will be spoken to in Chatham court on Tuesday, when Walter Ardis is expected to be part of the proceedings via an audio connection.Now she’s gone, which is very sad, because she didn’t deserve it

Ardis remains in hospital for reasons which have not been revealed, a source told the Chatham Daily  News.

“All I know is I saw all the smoke and ran through the backyard and the whole house was on fire,” Spreeuwenberg said. Firefighters were dispatched to the couple’s house at 58 Nichols Dr. at 12:45 p.m. on March  24.

Article #2 – Aug. 17 2016

Côte­St­Luc man charged with murdering wife by setting fire to their home

Côte‐St‐Luc man was in court Wednesday, charged with setting a fire to his residence that caused his wife to die.

Salomon Abeassis, 80, was arraigned at the Montreal courthouse on charges of first­degree murder of his 75­year­old wife Teresa Cohen

and “intentionally or recklessly (causing) damage by fire or by explosion to a dwelling house (…) knowing that or being reckless with the respect whether the (…) property was inhabited or occupied.”

On July 10, afirebrokeoutatthecouple’supstairsduplexat7033Guelph Rd.inCôte­St­Luc. A witness told The Montreal Gazette that the flames prevented her from reaching the couple but through the black smoke could see Abeassis “collapsed, on the floor.”

Urgences Santé brought Cohen to a hospital, where she died from her injuries two days later.

“There are reasonable motives to believe it’s a homicide,” Montreal police spokesperson Andrée­Anne Picard said.

Indicators at the scene pointed to arson, and the case was transferred to SPVM investigators. From the beginning, Abeassiswastreatedasan importantwitness.

“He had inhaled a lot of smoke so his lungs were damaged. He was in a coma

for a while. The medical staff only gave investigators the right to meet him on Aug. 5,” Picard said.

Based on that interrogation, Montreal police major crimes unit later arrested Abeassis for what could be the city’s 9th homicide of the year, according to police.

He was released from the hospital Wednesday morning and police escorted him straight to the courthouse, Picard said.

“Investigators submitted the case and the Crown prosecutor authorized the accusations so it’s up to the court to decide if the man is guilty beyond all doubt.” she said.

Article #3 –

Senior guilty of murder for stabbing wife 126 times

An elderly Surrey, B.C. man who stabbed his wife 126 times with a steak knife while she lay in bed has been convicted of second-degree murder.

Sebastiano Damin was 75 years old on Nov. 24, 2009, when he rose from bed in the middle of the night, grabbed a knife from the kitchen and then attacked his wife Maria Catroppa while she slept in her separate bedroom. She tried to defend herself, but Damin overpowered her, slashing at her head, neck and torso until she was dead.

He then tried to commit suicide, cutting himself three times in the neck and once in the belly.

 

A B.C. Supreme Court judge found Damin guilty of second-degree murder on Thursday, ruling that the murder was clearly intentional.

The marriage was the second for both Damin and Catroppa, 69. In the months leading up to the murder, Damin became seriously depressed and was increasingly afraid that his wife would leave him, according to court documents.

Catroppa told Damin’s sister shortly before the murder that she sometimes awoke at night to find her husband watching her while she slept.

On the day of the murder, Catroppa argued with Damin about placing him in a private clinic to get help. He told police he took sleeping pills to get some rest that night, but woke up after four hours and began “thinking and thinking and thinking.”

That’s when he decided to kill his wife.

After the deed was done and he realized his suicide attempt hadn’t worked, Damin called 911.

“I killed my wife,” he told the operator. “I tried to kill myself, but I can’t.”

Damin later said that he could remember only the first few stabs — his memory was a complete blank until he found himself standing outside the bedroom after the attack.

Defence lawyers argued that Damin wouldn’t have murdered his wife if it weren’t for his depression, but Justice Ian Josephson wrote that all of his actions indicated intent to kill.

“This was not a single blow in a heated moment. The accused entered the bedroom of the sleeping victim with the intent to attack her with a knife and did not stop until death was a certain outcome,” Josephson said.

“The defence theory that he drifted into such a severe depressive state after the first couple of stab wounds so as to not have the requisite intent, improving almost immediately after the final blow, drifts solidly into the realm of speculation.”

Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Article #4 – April 6 2017

Daughter testifies at trial of man accused of killing wife

Clark Sauve’s daughter took the stand at his murder trial Thursday, describing her parents’ final months together as a time of financial and health-related stresses.

Sauve is accused of killing his wife, Linda Sauve, inside their Cambridge home in December 2014.

He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, and claimed that his wife was shot by one of two women who were trying to rob their house. An antique handgun was found near her body.

Rouse Avenue

Police continued to block off a home on Rouse Avenue in Cambridge on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, one day after Linda Sauve was found dead inside.

One of several witnesses to testify Thursday was Cheri Green, the Sauves’ daughter.

She told the court that after her father hit his head on a metal beam in 2011, “things slowly started to turn.”

Sauve was in and out of hospitals over the next few years, and in was told in September 2014 that he would have five years to live.

“He was very upset, as anyone would be,” Green testified.

Green said that her father fell into depression and attempted suicide, but later became more hopeful after a second doctor told him that his condition was not terminal.

The trial also heard from Hazel Keys, a longtime friend of the Sauves.

Keys testified that the couple’s marriage had been “solid” until Clark Sauve hit his head and started to lose his mobility. He soon sold his business and spent more time restoring old guns.

“He was pretty depressed about his life,” Keys said.

Keys said that at one point, she asked Linda Sauve if she was concerned about her husband’s guns.

“I hadn’t really thought about that,” she recalled her friend responding.

The trial continues Thursday.

Appendix 2 – Interview Guide

Brief study description

Thank you for your interest in your study, and for agreeing to an interview. We are interested in understanding how members of the public who frequently read the newspaper respond to how acts of violence are portrayed. In particular we will ask you to read two recent news stories, and then we will have a discussion about your reactions and perceptions of the reporting, the incident itself, and any other general comments you have.

What are the first thoughts going through your mind after reading those articles?

Tell me more about what you mean by sad, unfair, or any other emotion mentioned

What do you mean by health, frail?

What are your perceptions of the perpetrator and the victim?

How do you feel about the way in which the story is presented?

Focus on accurateness of event representation

Biases observed?

Topics mentioned? (health, incident details, criminal case, etc.)

Reason/Cause for this violence?

Who is responsible?

What are some of your overall thoughts about intimate partner violence among women who are over 55?

How often do you think it occurs in this age group?

How is it similar to and different from IPV among younger women in similar situations?

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