The purpose of this paper is to move beyond traditional, dichotomous representations of women who kill. While recognising the agency of women who kill, we adopt a theoretical rather than an empirical approach as a way to explore how their actions can be shaped by wider socio-cultural factors underpinned by a powerful and complex honour–shame nexus. While discussions of honour and violence have generally been situated in the context of masculinity and culture, we intend to show how a broader conceptualisation of the honour–shame nexus can explain multiple forms of gendered violence that transcend race, religion and culture. We draw upon three distinct case studies to illustrate this broader application. These cases cover examples of honour-based violence (HBV), domestic abuse, sexual exploitation andcoercive control. Ultimately, this article should be read as a theoretical thought piece that examines how honour and shame can work in dynamic tension with one another to form a complex psychosocial driver of female violence.