Does Abuse Excuse Murder?

And if not, why not?

Early one morning in 1987, June Briand pulled out her husband's gun and shot him as he slept.  He'd often beaten her and threatened to kill her if she left him.  Her ribs had been broken, she had kidney and stomach problems, and she could've been killed at any time. She ended up sentenced to 15 years for murder.  Did she have to shoot him?  Why didn't she just leave?

I read about her when someone asked her governor to pardon her, saying that she couldn't leave this guy, killing him was the only way she could get away, she wasn't dangerous otherwise, and they should let her go.  But according to the papers, she thought about killing, went and got a gun, and killed a sleeping man on purpose, that's first-degree murder.  What do you think of that?  Could she have left?

I asked a friend about her, I wanted to know if a woman really could be trapped in a terrifying, harmful, life-threatening situation and not be able to leave.  My friend told me her parents divorced when she was about 4, and for 3 or 4 years, she and her mother lived with a drunk who beat her mother up every week.  "Every Friday," she told me, "I'd call the cops, and they'd come try to calm him down."  She had to wait until the boyfriend started actually beating her mother, if she called too early, the cops got upset with her.

Her mother had some college and a good job, why did it take years to get away from this drunk?  According to Time Magazine of January 18, 1993, the men in their lives injure more American women, rich and poor alike, than car accidents, muggings and rape combined.

Is abuse a valid defense for murder?

Few people argue that it's OK for a woman, even an abused woman, to shoot a man in cold blood when she's not in danger at the time.  There are shelters for battered women, and the staff know not to tell who's there.  So why can't women just leave?

It's politically incorrect to talk about this, but the answer lies deep in the fundamental nature of men and women.  Up until maybe 150 years ago, there was no way for a woman in America to feed herself unless some man, her father, a brother, or a husband, was willing to feed her.  Women simply weren't strong enough to farm.  When spinning mills got going in the 1850's, women could get jobs and feed themselves without men, but until then, a woman didn't eat unless a man gave her food.  It's still that way for women in most of the world.

When a woman found a man who was willing to feed her, she had a powerful motive to stay with him, no matter how badly he treated her. Hanging around a guy meant she'd have children, of course, so he had to feed her children, too, but as long as he did that, her children could grow up to have children of their own.  That's called "reproductive success."

A woman who didn't want to hang out with men didn't have children; a woman who couldn't persuade a man to feed her usually starved to death.  Thus, if you look back at your ancestors, every one of your women ancestors was able to find a man to feed her and every man was willing to do it.

That long, long history of dependence on men makes it hard for a woman to pull away once she's established a relationship with a man.

What about men?  If a man took care of a woman, it helped her reproductive success but it didn't do anything for him unless her children were his.  A man who wasn't jealous, who wasn't possessive, might end up raising other men's children and thus get bred out of the gene pool.  A jealous, possessive man, on the other hand, kept close watch over his woman so that all her kids were his.  This assured his reproductive success along with hers.

A rich man could have many children by supporting multiple women, but he had to watch carefully to make sure all the children were his.  That's why eunuchs were popular as harem guards.  Historical records indicate that one of the Ottoman sultans had 880 children.

So women have an inherited tendency to cling to men and men have an inherited tendency to be possessive of women.  In extreme cases, a man may beat a woman who acts independent and she may not be able to tear herself away from him in spite of not wanting to belong to him.

Modern women have welfare and can get jobs, they don't need men to feed them, but children do a lot better if there's a father around the house.  The reason there's so much trouble in relationships between men and women is that nobody wants to admit that men and women are so different.  Having sex makes a woman feel dependent.  Most men know that women want a relationship and not just sex, so they pretend to give love in order to get sex.  If women were more aware of the emotions behind their desire for a long-term relationship and were taught that sexual involvement with a man can lead to deep emotional involvement, they might be a bit more careful.

There's no point in women wishing that men were less possessive; that's the way they are.

What, then, do we make of couples who live together?  In most cases, the woman thinks they'll get married eventually, the man doesn't.  Many women are persuaded that it's more liberated for her to pay her share of the rent and other expenses so that he gets her for nothing.  Women don't realize that if a man can have a woman for nothing, that's what she's worth.  If she'll have sex with him without marriage, how can he trust her not to have sex with other men if he marries her?  Being married to a woman he can't trust goes against all of a man's instincts.  He'll play with her, but he probably won't promise to stay with her.

Is abuse an excuse for murder?  No, it isn't, and if women were taught more about how their emotions can tie them to men, they might be a bit more careful.

It would be a good idea for men to be more responsible, of course, but women have been saying that for a long time without much result.  Women can talk all they want about responsibility, but if a woman is willing to go to bed with a man without assuring herself that he'll act responsibly, why should he take on the burden of marriage?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

June briand is a murder and did not have to kill my uncle .........I was to young to know what was going on but THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR MURDER.

March 22, 2013 4:46 PM

^ Your uncle was a piece of human shit who deserved to die. If he had chosen not to be apiece of wife-beating scum, he would still be alive today.

June 25, 2013 1:15 PM

The world is a better place with that person gone.

August 19, 2013 11:29 PM

The events, this woman and her book are the nightmare of my life. Ive watched many true stories thru-out my life and endured an unhealthy relationship my self. I have learned during the course of my entire life that there is three sides to every story. His, hers and the truth. Not every verbal story, written book or produced movie is 100% factual. I know this, because this is MY life that everyone comments on! As the daughter of James Briand I am devastated by the customer and authors reviews. Yes, to the common person this book may be a good read. This book may relate to the real abused portion of the world but someone who lived it and can remember every horrifying detail can whole heartily tell you that June Briand is a complete and total LIAR! My father was no saint, but he was the best man in my world! I was daddys little girl. My father loved with all his heart his two little girls. This maybe hard for anyone to accept, but June Briand was in fact the ABUSER! June Briand beat me all the time. I have a dent in my skull til this day from her slamming me into a corner. The only physical,verbal and mental abuse that was endured in our home was by June Briand. My father made sure June Briand had everything she wanted within his limits. No relationship is perfect and people fight. June Briand killed my father for the shear simple fact he was going to leave her! It absolutely devastates and breaks my heart and soul to read the crushing words that my father was/is a monster! I have read reviews on the internet from people and the things everyone says is the most soulless, gut wrenching words any daughter could read. June Briand destroyed my life! June Briand tore my family apart! As I stated, this book may be a good read and everyone is entitled to read and comment but please please keep in mind NOT everything is true and the cruel insensitive pass of judgement of words is the worst considering his daughters will one day have to read them. Yes there is only one book and one side of the story...but Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the Briand family is struggling daily to get thru the daily reminders of my fathers unnecessary death and have not chose to write a book due to the pain it causes? I cant speak for anyone else on here or any other review pertaining to my father but I am his daughter and I know the truth! I lived it..remember it and still living it! Im just asking all readers to please respect the Briand family with the comments and please please understand that this is a true book of lies. I cant keep stressing this enough. My father James Briand was my Teddy Bear....NOT A MONSTER!!! I LOVE YOU DADDY!!! XO

Jarred..thank you for your review and may you and my father rest in peace!

May 24, 2015 7:00 PM

If it was all a lie what about the physical evidence of abuse that had been going on for years?

July 28, 2015 1:24 AM

there is not one ounce of evidence physical documents anything of that nature providing proof not to mention personal eyewitness of no such thing occurring.

July 28, 2015 10:04 AM

As I read the papers, the hospitals had treated her for bruises many times. The abuse was more or less regarded as factual, but does that excuse murder?

July 28, 2015 9:02 PM

so you claim the papers said she was medically treated? so I guess the daughter who lives in the home is a delusional liar, yeah I guess I would read some sort of entertainment ie the newspaper with no factual proof first is listening to someone who lived it first hand

July 29, 2015 12:26 AM

It is a very sad situation,the kids were very young at the time then went to live with his family who i'm sure hate June. Do you think with his violence outside the home that he would be peachy at home? If even a third of that is true he was one sick man and there were mitigating circumstances.

July 29, 2015 12:41 AM

Even after all these years, it still amazes me how cruel people can be. My brother was not a sick man and you have some nerve saying he was especially in the same comments that his daughter is in. So because she killed him , he must of deserved it, right! ? The trashy book must be true because it says so right there on the cover. .so it just has to be true..just goes 5o show intelligent you are. .I hope that you never lose anyone in your family like we lost in ours. He was murdered in cold blood. The cops even commented that she was one "cold blooded bitch"..she didn't even have any feelings of remorse or didn't even cry..she was cold..she was like that to her children too!! You know nothing about my family or my brother. . Go read another True story and I pity the next family! Don't you find it odd that no one else was even interviewed for this book..?? The crazy crap they wrote about my family is insane. Had my family been interviewed by a REAL author (TRUE CRIME) , this book would of went in a completely different direction. Check out the author of the book and you will see he is just a back room author with no experience. Seriously.

December 7, 2015 9:12 PM


December 8, 2015 4:28 PM

Yes. I think abuse is the perfect excuse to kill. If the person in question is abused so bad to where they become insane, the abuser should expect something awful to happen to him/her. If they end up being killed, they had it coming.

January 4, 2016 8:37 PM

Yes. I think abuse is the perfect excuse to kill. If the person in question is abused so bad to where they become insane, the abuser should expect something awful to happen to him/her. If they end up being killed, they had it coming.

January 4, 2016 8:37 PM

You u all.. should be ashamed of yourselves...
Fyi...the family did not drill or convince anything in my head I am NOT a part of that family I am merely speaking truth on behalf of my father. these comments are disgusting and cold considering nobody commenting knows any facts. therefore your theory of his children being convinced he was something else is a lie. I am NOT a part of that father was not a monster nor did he deserve to die...

January 11, 2016 10:04 PM

You are overlooking something else. An abused woman is essentially a prisoner of war. Her boyfriend/husband has became her jailer. Everything she does is because he allows her to do so. If she commits any transgression, he punishes her severely, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Her sense of self is gone. Her sense of pride is gone. Her sense of anything other than strictly staying a alive, is gone.

She knows leaving wont save her. He will find her and when he does he will kill her. He also may kill her friends and family, to teach her a lesson. There is no escape for her, from him, as long as he is alive.

If John McCain had killed his prison guards, in order to escape, would that have been murder? If he had killed his guards, in order to escape, should he have been put in jail? Or would he have been viewed as doing what he had to do, in order to survive?

Battered women are prisoners of war and the batterer is the prison guard.

April 11, 2018 11:37 AM

A Battered woman is equivalent to being a prisoner off war in a country that does not respect the Geneva Convention. If not for divine intervention, my two husbands self-destructed, I would be dead.

April 13, 2018 6:45 PM

It's called Battered Woman Syndrome and June experienced learned helplessness. This means she felt she had no escape. The most dangerous time for a battered woman is when they leave. They are more likely to be murdered themselves. That is a known fact.

June 2, 2018 8:24 AM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...