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A (usually female) character's family decides to get "revenge" on her because they figure that she has somehow stained the family's honor. Maybe she has a Love Interest that they don't approve of, or she refused an Arranged Marriage. Maybe she's turned out to be homosexual or turned her back on their religion. Or maybe it's merely that she's living an independent life at all. Or, grossly enough, maybe she merely committed the awful crime of getting raped.

The trope includes, but is not limited to, so-called "honor killings" where the family actually murder their relative.

While this kind of violence is usually directed against female relatives (including targeting the men that these women date), it can also be directed against male relatives, especially if they get a reputation for homosexuality.

Honor-Related Abuse is not only Honor Before Reason, but also the same kind of values that makes some people think that a rape victim is Defiled Forever — a way of thinking that other people find quite repulsive.

Contrast Rape and Revenge, where the victim is considered a protagonist rather than a passive object to discard for no longer being "clean."

Happens far too often in Real Life. Let The Other Wiki provide Real Life facts, and leave it at that.

Examples of Honor-Related Abuse include:


  • The movie Not Without My Daughter (as well as the book it's based on) tells the story of a failed marriage and a custody battle as entirely a matter of Honor-Related Abuse. The characters start out as an American family, although the husband is of Iranian descent. They are happy with each other until they visit Iran, and the husband's relatives there can start putting much more pressure on him than they could long-distance. In his new-found role as protector of the family honor, he starts battering his wife and brainwashing his daughter. While the wife and daughter are victims of the husband-turned-monster, he is also clearly portrayed as a victim of his own (even by Iranian standards) ultra-conservative family.
    • Since the daughter has been given Iranian citizenship (without the mother's consent), the mother can't even try to take her back to America without risking the death penalty. Eventually, they manage to flee the country and return home to the USA.
  • In Stoning of Soraya M., this is the excuse for the titular stoning; The husband wants to spend more time with his mistress and avoid the cost of a divorce, so he first sends his wife to do household chores for a male widow and then accuses her of adultery. They eventually bully the widower to falsely testify against her and even force Soraya's father and children to participate in the stoning.
  • In the film When We Leave, a young woman leaves her abusive husband in Turkey to return to her family in Germany. Although basically sympathetic to the abuse she has endured, they are ashamed of her for leaving her husband and supposedly bringing shame onto her family — their friends shun them and her younger sister's fiance nearly ends their relationship until the father offers the family a large sum of money. When the young woman flees the family apartment after realizing that they are planning to kidnap her son and send him back to his father, they shun her outright and her brother begins stalking and harassing her, culminating in him trying to stab her (after her younger brother can't bring himself to shoot her) and accidentally killing her son, who she was holding in her arms at the time. Ironically, despite having no remorse about trying to kill his own sister, he is horrified at having killed his nephew.
  • In the movie Crossing Over, a Middle Eastern man murders his sister and her lover, incensed at her refusal to end her affair with a man who is not only married, but Mexican.


  • Virginius and Virginia in Livy, The Romance Of The Rose and The Canterbury Tales.
    • In Livy, at least, there is a strong implication that Virginius and Virginia herself regarded this as a Mercy Killing saving her from a Fate Worse Than Death.
    • There is a similar story in Arthur Conan Doyle's The White Company; a French peasant father and daughter tie themselves together and jump into the mill pond to drown after the girl attracts the lustful attentions of a nobleman.
    • Also in Livy, Lucretia did this to herself when she was raped by the son of King Tarquin; this supposedly set off the revolution against the monarchy and the establishment of the Roman Republic.
      • This also happens in Shakespeare's version (a lengthy poem) The Rape of Lucrece.
  • The Swedish book "Mordet på Fadime" (The murder of Fadime) revolves around this, especially the case that made "honor killings" a well known concept in Sweden.
  • In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's lesser-known novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Angela Vicario's husband turns her away and her mother beats her when they realize that she isn't a virgin.
  • Flowers In The Attic, the book and film. A widow with children tries to restore connections with her wealthy family, but she was estranged due to Brother-Sister Incest. After she takes enough punishment to satisfy their demands for penance, she abandons her imprisoned children to their continued abuse.
  • The Empire trilogy includes several instances of honorable suicide, and at least one character "honor kills" his entire family prior to such an act. Many deaths are arranged so that rivals can "gain in honor." The majority of people who have the misfortune of being slaves are treated as poorly as possible so that their "debts" may be paid and they can go honorably to death and to their next life. In fact, much of the trilogy is just made of this trope.
  • In Catherine Anderson's Comanche Moon, Loretta Simpson's aunt would rather she die than be "a Comanche's woman" and aims a shotgun at her. Luckily, she doesn't fire.
  • One of the Leyendas (Legends) by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer has this as a plot point. It's La Promesa (The Promise), where a Count seduces the Girl Next Door Margarita under a fake identity and, few after promising to marry her, goes to war. When he returns, a local troubadour sings a song about a girl who was murdered by her older brother over this trope — and the girl is Margarita, whose dead hand (which has a ring given to her by the Count) remains unburied no matter what, "waiting" for the Count to fill his promise to marry her. Only when the sincerely remorseful Count stages a "wedding ceremony" to the dead Margarita and her hand, she's able to rest in peace.

Live Action TV

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tara's family is like this. They abuse her emotionally and lie to her to make her hate herself, fooling her to believe that she is less than human. When she breaks free to make a life of her own, they start threatening to move on to physical abuse, and would most likely have made good on their threats if it wasn't for almost the entire cast closing ranks around her and telling them that they would have to go through them to get to her. Except Spike.
  • Basically the whole plot of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit season two episode "Honor." A woman is brutally killed, and it turns out it was related to her family's disapproval of her boyfriend. Her mother finally steps up and admits what she saw and...well, you try getting those final images out of your head.
    • Said images being her corpse in the bedroom of her home, her husband having slashed her throat and fled back to Afghanistan before the police could catch him, with his characterization of the episode making it clear that he won't lose a moment of sleep over having murdered his supposed love and his own child.
  • Subverted in Farscape: up until the episode "Mental As Anything," D'Argo's Dark and Troubled Past involved his wife, Lo'Laan, being murdered by her brother, Macton- apparently for marrying a non-Sebacean. However, when D'Argo finally catches up with Macton, it turns out that the "honour-killing" was accidental: the two of them had been arguing, and Lo'Laan had drawn a knife on Macton- only for him to instinctively deflect it back on her. Macton's real crime was making it look as though D'Argo had done it in a fit of Hyper Rage.
    • While the killing wasn't premeditated, the argument was still mostly about Macton's Fantastic Racism against his brother-in-law.
  • A storyline on the soap opera Port Charles had a young Middle Eastern woman being terrorized by her brother. She had fled her country after being raped and her family responded by sending her brother to kill her in order to restore family honor. This being a soap opera, a well-meaning friend quickly married her to keep her from being deported back to her country as well as to pacify her family. Unfortunately, it didn't work--the brother continued stalking her and discovered that the marriage was fake (the man already had a girlfriend) and eventually did attempt to kill her, though he was unsuccessful.
  • Subverted in The Closer two-parter "Living Proof". A scuffle between two Albanian men in a mall ends with the older one dead, the younger one claiming he only killed in self-defense (reasonable enough, as the older man had pulled out the knife in the first place). He claimed that the old man was his father, who had disowned him for marrying a Christian. Then the dead man's daughters turn up dead, and the son suggests that his father had snapped and gone on a belated honor-killing spree against his family (the daughters for being raped by Serbian forces during the Albanian genocide, the son for failing to protect them and surviving by hiding). In fact, the "son" was one of the murdering Serbian soldiers, pulling a Dead Person Impersonation using the name of one of his victims to escape trial for war crimes. Unfortunately for him, his stolen identity's father met him by chance, and the man tried to kill the entire Albanian family so they couldn't out him as a war criminal.


  • The protagonist of Titus Andronicus. After his daughter Lavinia gets raped, he restores his honor by murdering the rapists — and her! Sure, she was depicted as a severe case of Defiled Forever, but if the murder had been done in a gentler way it could have been considered a Mercy Killing to put her out of her misery, considering what else the rapists did to her — but the way he did it (at least in the movie version, and that one stays true to the original manuscript) was definitely a part of his own personal revenge.
    • The original manuscript only had him killing her; in keeping with Shakespearean stage directions, it gave no specifics about how the act should be carried out, making this highly subjective.
    • How about his son, Mutius? When Bassianus runs off with Lavinia after Titus promised her hand to Saturninus, the new emperor, the rest of his sons help them. When Mutius stands in his way, Titus cuts him down without a second thought.


  • Melusine (an anthropomorphic dolphin) in Concession was murdered by her brother-in-law for getting impregnated by a land-dweller. Prompting the father to destroy an entire city and her to come back as an insane ghost.