For Release: Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Annual study ranks the states by the rate of females killed by males in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October
Washington, DC — Nearly 1,800 women were murdered by men in 2019 and the most common weapon used was a gun, according to the most recent edition of the annual Violence Policy Center (VPC) study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2019 Homicide Data.
Each year the VPC releases this report in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The study uses 2019 data, the most recent year for which information is available. The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
The study found that nationwide, 91 percent of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun.
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “This annual study consistently shows that women who are victims of homicide are most likely to be murdered by a man they know and that all too often that man is an intimate partner.”
This is the 24th edition of When Men Murder Women. From 1996 to 2019, the rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents dropped from 1.57 per 100,000 women in 1996 to 1.18 per 100,000 women in 2019, a decrease of 25 percent. Since reaching its low of 1.08 in 2014, the rate has increased, with 2019’s rate of 1.18 up nine percent since 2014.
The study also has a separate section focusing on Black females killed by males.
Below is a table of the states with the 10 highest rates of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2019.
For each of these 10 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, 1,795 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2019, at a rate of 1.18 per 100,000. Of the 1,795 female homicide victims, 1,166 were white, 501 were Black, 53 were Asian or Pacific Islander, 39 were American Indian or Alaskan Native, and in 36 cases the race of the victim was not identified.
- Nine out of 10 victims (91 percent) knew their offenders. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Ten 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 2019, Black females were murdered by males at a rate of 2.34 per 100,000, more than twice the rate of 0.99 per 100,000 for white women murdered by men.
- Firearms were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in 2019. Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 58 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 65 percent were killed with handguns.
- The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance was more than three and a half times the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined.
- 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, 85 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 reauthorization 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.
For a PDF version of the study, please visit http://vpc.org/studies/wmmw2021.pdf.
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 Twitter and Facebook.