More Than 1,800 Women Murdered by Men in One Year, New Study Finds

For Release: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Annual Study Released as Federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Set to Expire on September 30 and Domestic Violence Awareness Month Begins in October

Study Ranks States by Rate of Women Killed by Men

Washington, DC — More than 1,800 women were murdered by men in 2016 and the most common weapon used was a gun, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2016 Homicide Data.

For the past 21 years, the VPC has released this annual report in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. This year, its release comes as the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is scheduled to expire on September 30. A bill to reauthorize VAWA has been introduced in the House.

The study uses 2016 data, the most recent year for which information is available. The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.

The study found that nationwide, 93 percent of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun.

“The study shows that women are most likely to be murdered by a man they know with a gun, and that all too often that man is an intimate partner. The study highlights the importance of renewing the Violence Against Women Act, which would expand resources devoted to keeping guns out of the hands of abusers,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand.

“Across the nation, state gun violence prevention organizations are working to protect women from firearms death and injury stemming from domestic violence. While progress is being made, much remains to be accomplished at the state and federal levels to safeguard women from lethal domestic violence. Renewing the Violence Against Women Act is essential to these efforts,” states Nick Wilson, national director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence, the national umbrella organization for state gun violence prevention groups.

The Violence Policy Center has published When Men Murder Women annually for 21 years, during which the national rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has dropped 24 percent — from 1.57 per 100,000 in 1996 to 1.20 per 100,000 in 2016. However, since reaching a low of 1.08 in 2014, the rate has increased in each of the last two years, with 2016’s rate of 1.20 per 100,000 up 11 percent since 2014.

Below is a list of the states with the 10 highest rates of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2016:

For each of these states, the study offers a detailed summary including: the number of victims by age group and race; the most common weapons used; the victim to offender relationships; and the circumstances of the homicides.

National statistics from the study include the following.

• Nationwide, 1,809 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2016, at a rate of 1.20 per 100,000. Of the 1,809 female homicide victims, 1,188 were white, 517 were black, 55 were Asian or Pacific Islander, 26 were American Indian or Alaskan Native, and in 23 cases the race of the victim was not identified.

• Nine out of 10 victims knew their offenders. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 63 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Thirteen times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.

• Black women are disproportionately impacted by lethal domestic violence. In 2016, black females were murdered by men at a rate of 2.62 per 100,000, more than twice the rate of 1.03 per 100,000 for white women murdered by men.

• Firearms were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in 2016. Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 56 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 66 percent were killed with handguns.

• The overwhelming majority of these homicides were not related to any other felony crime, such as rape or robbery. Nationwide, for homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 82 percent of the homicides were not related to the commission of another felony. Most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument between the victim and the offender.

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. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

In addition to supporting renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, the study urges that state legislators adopt laws that enhance enforcement of federal legislation and ensure that guns are surrendered by or removed from the presence of abusers.

To view the full report, please visit

To see previous 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 TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

States United to Prevent Gun Violence ( is a grassroots network of 32 state affiliates working to make our communities and families safer.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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