Andrea Yates became notorious for the murder of her five children in 2001. Though the local district attorney wanted to pursue the death penalty for her, the woman was found unguilty, because of insanity. Still, there were factors that contributed to her insanity and led to carrying out the homicidal act against her own children.
Firstly, the likeliness of the child maltreatment was very high due to the familial factors of the mother. Though before the first suicide attempt, Yates did not get any treatment for mental illness, it seems as she had genetic predisposition to the depression. The depression was the disease, which Andrea’s father and her brothers had; moreover, her sister experienced some mental illnesses. In case of Andrea Yates, the depression was only getting worse after each next child. This woman suffered from periods of psychosis and depression, and according to her own confession “had a fear she would hurt somebody” (Yardley, 2001). An increasing family size depressed Andrea Yates so much as to attempt suicide twice. Finally, she had received a diagnosis of a postpartum psychosis, and had to go through the rehabilitation process in the medical institution.
Secondly, it seems that Andrea Yates was a victim of intimate partner violence. Her husband, Russell Yates, appears to be an authoritative head of their family. Though doctors described him as “sympathetic and loving during her hospitalizations,” he was also called “controlling” (Yardley, 2001). Controlling behavior is one of the displays of intimate partner violence. This behavior includes isolating a person from family and friends, monitoring their movements, and restricting access to employment or medical care (Heise & Garcia, 2002). Controlling behavior of Mr. Yates was evident from his attitude to his wife. For instance, he allowed Mrs. Yates no more than two hours a week of personal time. Apparently, this woman was deprived of possibility to be employed, as she had to rise and school her five children. Thus, Russell Yates restricted his wife’s access to employment. Additionally, this woman could not receive sufficient medical care, as her husband always insisted on leaving hospital and continue outpatient therapy at home. Accordingly, Andrea Yates suffered from dominance and control of the relationship by her husband, which she could not leave because of the lack of alternative means of economic support and children. Thus, intimate partner violence becomes the second contributive factor of the Yates’ criminal behavior.
Finally, stress is the third factor that contributed to the Andrea Yates’ murder. The preconditions of her stress are easy to understand from the words of the woman herself. When she was asked what is she missing in her life, she complained that “she spends all her time in child care, has been living in a motor home part time and with her elderly, medically frail parents part time” (Yardley, 2001). Her words speak of the poor living conditions and a burden of responsibility for both her old parents and her children. Naturally, single motherhood is a very stressful experience. It was multiplied by the quantity of children in case of Andrea Yates. Incidentally, doctors warned the Yates couple of the possible consequences, saying, “This will surely guarantee future psychosis and depression” (Yardley, 2001). Thus, chronic stress is both the result of intimate partner violence and reason of the child maltreatment.
To conclude everything said in this case brief structure essay, children of Andrea Yates were under the risk of maltreatment because of the familial factors of their mother. At the same time, Mrs. Yates was herself victimized that increased a possibility for her to become an offender. Finally, these two groups of factors intersected in the stress under which Andrea Yates carried out the homicidal act against her own children.