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In Harm’s Way

November 11
00:00 2013

Black women most likely to be killed by the men they love

Black women face a disproportionate share of fatal domestic violence in America, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report, “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data.”

In 2011, 492 black females were murdered by males at a rate of 2.61 per 100,000, compared to a rate of 0.99 per 100,000 for white females. The annual report was released last month to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report. This year’s report applies to 2011 because it is most recent year for which data is available.

Here are some of the report’s findings related to black females murdered by males:
• Where the relationship could be determined, 94 percent of black females killed by males knew their killers. Nearly 15 times as many black females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.
• Of the black victims who knew their offenders, 52 percent were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Ninety-three percent of the homicides were intra-racial.
• Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapons used by males to murder black females. When the murder weapon could be identified, 51 percent of black female victims were shot and killed with guns. Within that group, 82 percent were killed with a handgun.
• In homicides where the age of victims was reported, 12 percent of black female victims were less than 18 years old (55 victims), and five percent were 65 years of age or older (22 victims).
• 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, 87 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony.

“The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know,” said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Already, many elected officials and community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence. Yet despite these efforts, the numbers remain unacceptably high. We need new policies in place from local communities to the federal government to protect women from harm.”

“Nine women each week are shot to death by their husband or intimate partner,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “That’s nearly 500 domestic gun violence deaths each year — more than twice the number of servicewomen killed in military conflicts since the Korean War. We urgently need better policies that protect women and their families from this senseless violence. No American, adult or child, should live in a perpetual state of fear. It’s inhumane.”

Nationwide, a total of 1,707 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2011, at a rate of 1.17 per 100,000.
The study also ranks each state based on the homicide rate for females murdered by males. In 2011, South Carolina led the nation with a rate of 2.54 per 100,000. North Carolina was 22nd, with a rate of 1.23 homicides per 100,000 women. There were 61 female homicide victims in the Tarheel State in 2011.

To view the full report, visit http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2013.pdf.

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