Nearly 2,000 Women Murdered by Men in One Year, New VPC Study Finds

For Release: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Study ranks the states by the rate of females killed by males in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October

Washington, DC — Nearly 2,000 women were murdered by men in 2017 and the most common weapon used was a gun, according to the most recent edition of the Violence Policy Center (VPC) study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2017 Homicide Data.

Each year the VPC releases this report in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. This year, its release comes following the February 2019 expiration of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). A bill to reauthorize VAWA has passed the U.S. House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

The study uses 2017 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, 92 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, “Women are most likely to be murdered with a gun wielded not by a stranger but by someone they know. In many instances the murderer is an intimate partner of the victim. It is important to know these facts in order to identify effective strategies to prevent homicides against women. One critical step is for the U.S. Senate to follow the lead of the House of Representatives and pass legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.”

Interim Executive Director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence Karen Abrams states, “We are appalled at the rates at which women continue to be shot and killed by men. But, when it comes to gun violence against women we have policy tools that work. Our grassroots gun violence prevention leaders know this. Which is why they push tirelessly at the state and local levels to pass and strengthen laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. These are solutions that make change happen.”

This is the 22nd edition of When Men Murder Women. From 1996 to 2017, the rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents dropped from 1.57 per 100,000 women in 1996 to 1.29 per 100,000 women in 2017, a decrease of 18 percent. Since reaching its low of 1.08 in 2014, the rate has increased in each of the last three years, with 2017’s rate of 1.29 up 19 percent since 2014.

Below is a table of the states with the 10 highest rates of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2017.

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, 1,948 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2017, at a rate of 1.29 per 100,000. Of the 1,948 female homicide victims, 1,309 were white, 507 were black, 65 were Asian or Pacific Islander, 35 were American Indian or Alaskan Native, and in 32 cases the race of the victim was not identified.

• Nine out of 10 victims (92 percent) knew their offenders. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Nearly 11 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 2017, black females were murdered by males at a rate of 2.55 per 100,000, more than twice the rate of 1.13 per 100,000 for white women murdered by men.

• Firearms were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in 2017. Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 57 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 69 percent were killed with handguns.

• The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance was nearly four 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, 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 national non-profit organization working to support state-based gun violence prevention groups and help build new state-led organizations. States United believes that all Americans deserve to live in a country free from the fear, threat, and devastation caused by gun violence.

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