New VPC Study Analyzes 25 Years of Data from “When Men Murder Women” for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October

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Today the Violence Policy Center (VPC) released When Men Murder Women: A Review of 25 Years of Female Homicide Victimization in the United StatesThe study analyzes 25 years of data, from 1996 to 2020, from the VPC’s annual report, When Men Murder Women. This year, the VPC was forced to temporarily suspend the state rankings usually contained in the report due to the unreliability of 2021 federal crime data as the result of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ongoing transition from its Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the new National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). [For an overview of how the problems associated with this switchover have negatively affected data collection and its impact on gun violence research and policy development, please see the new VPC study The Negative Impact of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Transition on Gun Violence Research.] As a result, the VPC is only able to offer this 25-year overview of females killed by males, although it is our hope that at some point in the near future we will be able to resume publication of the original report, including its state rankings.

STATE FINDINGS

During When Men Murder Women‘s 25-year publication history, 33 states had rates of females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents that placed them among the jurisdictions with the 10 highest rates for that given year. During this period, eight states ranked in the top 10 in more than half of the past 25 years: AlaskaArkansasLouisianaNevadaNew MexicoOklahomaSouth Carolina, and Tennessee. Notably, virtually all of these states are southern or southwestern states and the majority have higher rates of household firearm ownership. During this period:

  • Alaska was in the top 10 states for 18 out of the last 25 years and has consistently ranked number one or two among states with the highest rates in the last decade.

  • Arkansas was in the top 10 states for 14 out of the last 25 years.

  • Louisiana was in the top 10 states every year with the exception of 2008.

  • Nevada was in the top 10 states for 23 out of the past 25 years.

  • New Mexico was in the top 10 states for 13 out of the past 25 years.

  • Oklahoma was in the top 10 states for 15 out of the past 25 years.

  • South Carolina was in the top 10 states for 23 out of the past 25 years.

  • Tennessee was in the top 10 states for 20 out of the past 25 years.

NATIONAL FINDINGS

  • A total of 45,817 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents between 1996 and 2020 as reported to the FBI UCR’s Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). Of these, 29,503 victims were white (64 percent), 14,038 were Black (31 percent), 1,216 were Asian or Pacific Islander (three percent), and 522 were American Indian/Alaska Native (one percent). Information about race was missing for 538 victims (one percent).

  • National homicide rates of females killed by males decreased slightly between 1996 and 2014, and then began increasing in 2015.

  • Rates increased more substantially among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native females compared to other races during this 25-year period. The percentage of Black female victims killed with a gun has increased dramatically in the past decade, from 51 percent in 2011 to 72 percent in 2020.

  • Most women killed by men knew their killers. Over the past 25 years, 92 percent of female victims knew their male killers.

  • Among female victims who knew their male killers, 61 percent were murdered by an intimate partner.

  • Fifty-three percent of female victims killed by males were killed with a firearm, the majority of which were handguns.

Kristen Rand, VPC Director of Government Affairs, states, “While the rate of females killed by males has increased, especially among Black females, we’re now flying blind with respect to how state rates differ. This information gap is broad and deep and impacts researchers, advocates, policymakers, and whole communities as they work to protect women and children from lethal domestic violence.”

For a PDF version of the study, please visit https://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2023.pdf.

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

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