Study Finds Black Women Murdered by Men Are Nearly Always Killed by Someone They Know, Most Commonly with a Gun

Annual Violence Policy Center study ranks the states by the rate of females killed by males in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October

Washington, DC — Nine out of 10 Black women murdered by men are killed by someone they know, most often with a gun, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2018 Homicide Data.

Each year the VPC releases this report in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The study uses 2018 data, the most recent year for which information is available. The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.

The study found that in 2018, 605 Black females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents, at a rate of 2.85 per 100,000. In comparison, the rate for white women murdered by males for that year was 1.03 per 100,000. Nationwide, across all races, 1,946 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2018, at a rate of 1.28 per 100,000.

Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapons used by males to murder Black females. When the murder weapon could be identified, 64 percent of Black female victims were shot and killed with guns. Within that group, 70 percent were killed with a handgun.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know. Although advocates and many community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence, there is still much more work to be done to protect women in harm’s way.”

Additional findings from the report relating to Black females murdered by males include:

Compared to a Black male, a Black female is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. Where the relationship could be determined, 91 percent of Black females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killers. Of the Black victims who knew their offenders, 61 percent were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. More than nine times as many Black females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.

The vast majority of homicides of Black females murdered by males were not related to any other felony crime. Most often, Black females were killed by males in the course of an argument. In cases where the circumstances could be identified, 81 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony.

The study also ranks each state based on the homicide rate for women across all races killed by men. Below are the states with the 10 highest rates of females of all races murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2018.

The number of Black females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance was more than three times as high as the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined.

The study calculates the rate of women murdered by men by dividing the total number of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents by the total female population and multiplying the result by 100,000. The rate of Black women murdered by men is calculated by dividing the total number of Black females murdered by males by the total Black female population and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

To view the full report, please visit http://vpc.org/studies/wmmw2020.pdf.

To see previous editions of When Men Murder Women, please click here.

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The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.