Intimate Partner Homicide
Between 1993 and 2007 the overall rate of murders of women fell 43%, from 4.18 to 2.38 homicides per 100,000 female U.S. residents.13
About 1/3 of female murder victims aged 12 or older are killed by an intimate partner, vs. roughly 3% of male victims.14
IPV is a leading cause of homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy.15
- Intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S., killing an estimated 1,640 women and 700 men.16
- 1,818 women in the US were killed by men in single victim/single offender incidents, as reported to the FBI’s 2009 Supplementary Homicide Reports. Where the victim/offender relationship was known, 63% were killed by an intimate partner (likely an underestimate, as ex-girlfriends were not included) – 550 of them with a firearm – most often a handgun.17
- Black women were murdered at a rate nearly 2.5 times higher than white women: 2.62 per 100,000 versus 1.06 per 100,000.18
Aggregate data from 1980 – 2008,19 mostly gathered from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and Supplementary Homicide Reports, shows that:
- Most victims were in the 18-34 age group (49%) or 35-49 age group (34%).
- Most offenders fell in the same two age groups with 47% and 35% respectively.
- Where the victim/offender relationship was known, female murder victims were almost 6 times more likely than male murder victims to have been killed by an intimate (42% vs 7%).
- 2 out of 5 female murder victims were killed by an intimate.
- The percentage of females killed by an intimate has remained relatively stable – 43% in 1980 vs. 45% in 2008, after a dip to 38% in 1995.
- 56% of male murder victims were killed by an acquaintance; another 25% were murdered by a stranger. The percentage of males killed by an intimate fell from 10% in 1980 to 5% in 2008, a 53% drop.
- The percentage of homicides committed by an intimate partner using a firearm declined from 69% in 1980 to 51% in 2008, a 26% decline.
- In 1980, 69% of all intimate homicides were committed by a spouse. By 2008, a nearly equal proportion was committed by a boyfriend or girlfriend (49% vs. 47% by a spouse).
The risk of a woman being killed by an intimate partner significantly increases when the abuser:
- Has access to a gun and has made previous threats or assaults with a gun.
- Threatens murder.
- Forces sex.
- Attempts to strangle the victim.
- Is extremely jealous.
- Is physically violent with increasing severity and/or frequency.
- Abuses drugs or alcohol.20
- Over 80% of men who killed or abused a female partner were problem drinkers in the year before the incident.21
- More than 2/3 of homicide and attempted homicide offenders were intoxicated at the time of the incident, compared to fewer than 1/4 of their victims.22
- More than 1/4 of homicide offenders used both alcohol and drugs during the incident, compared to just under 6% of non-lethal partner abusers.23
The risk of homicide is also increased if:
- The victim has recently separated from the offender.
- There is a child in the home who is not biologically related to the offender.
- The offender stalks the victim.
- The victim is abused during pregnancy.
- The offender is unemployed.24
Next: Teen Dating Violence
- Catalano et al, op.cit.
Fox, J.A. & Zawitz, M.W., (2007). Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide, Bureau of Justice Statistics
Violence Policy Center, (2010). When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data.
Cooper, A. & Smith, E.L. (2011). Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- Campbell, J.C., et al, (2003). Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide. NIJ Journal #250 (November), NCJ 196547.
- Sharps, P. et al, (2003). Risky Mix: Drinking, Drug Use, and Homicide, NIJ Journal, Issue # 250 (November), National Institute of Justice, NCJ 196546.