The disproportionate burden of fatal and nonfatal violence borne by black women has almost always been overshadowed by the toll violence has taken on black men. Black women were murdered at a rate more than three times higher than white women (3.64 per 100,000 versus 1.06 per 100,000).
Age of Black Female Homicide Victims
In single female victim/single male offender homicides reported for 1998, 10 percent of the black victims were less than 18 years old (63 victims) and only three percent were 65 years of age or older (22 victims). The average age of black female homicide victims was 32 years old.
Victim to Offender Relationship
Compared to a man, a black woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. More than 18 times as many black females were murdered by a male they knew (582 victims) than were killed by male strangers (32 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998. Of black victims who knew their offenders, 54 percent (317 out of 582) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.
Black Female Homicide Victims and Weapons
As with female homicide victims in general, firearmsï¿½especially handgunsï¿½were the most common weapons used by males to murder black females in 1998. In the 631 homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 58 percent of black female victims (365 victims) were shot and killed with guns. And when these women were killed with a gun, it was almost always a handgun (302 victims or 83 percent). The number of black females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (198 victims) was more than six times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (32 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998.
Black Female Homicide Victims and Circumstance
The overwhelming majority of homicides among black females by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents in 1998 were not related to any other felony crime. Most often, black females were killed by males in the course of an argumentï¿½usually with a firearm. In 1998 for the 560 homicides in which the circumstance between the black female victim and male offender could be identified, 89 percent (499 out of 560) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
Three quarters of non-felony homicides (375 out of 499) involved arguments between the black female victim and male offender. Sixty percent (225 victims) were shot and killed with guns during those arguments.
Among those homicides of black females where the race of the offender was known (653 incidents), almost all of the homicides (96 percent) involved an offender of the same race.