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 2013 Homicide Data.
The annual VPC report was released in September, one month in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses 2013 data (the most recent available) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
The study found that in 2013, 453 black females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents, at a rate of 2.36 per 100,000. In comparison, the rate for white women murdered by males for that year was 0.95 per 100,000. Nationwide, across all races, 1,615 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2013, at a rate of 1.09 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, 59 percent of black female victims were shot and killed with guns. Within that group, 77 percent were killed with a handgun.
“This is a national crisis with a devastating impact on black women, and we call on elected officials at the state and national levels to take immediate action,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand.
“When men murder women, the most common weapon used is a gun,” says Julia Wyman, executive director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence. “Closing gaps in state and federal gun laws will save women’s lives.”
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, 92 percent of Black females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killers. Of the Black victims who knew their offenders, 56 percent were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.
• 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, 84 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 murdered by men. Below are the 10 states with the highest rate of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2013:
Females Murdered By Males
Rank State Homicide Rate
1 South Carolina 2.32 per 100,000
2 Alaska 2.29 per 100,000
3 New Mexico 2.00 per 100,000
4 Louisiana 1.99 per 100,000
5 Nevada 1.95 per 100,000
6 Tennessee 1.65 per 100,000
6 Oklahoma 1.65 per 100,000
8 Vermont 1.58 per 100,000
9 Maine 1.47 per 100,000
10 Michigan 1.45 per 100,000
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 www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf.
The Violence Policy Center (www.vpc.org) is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the Violence Policy Center on Facebook and follow @VPCinfo on Twitter.