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. In 2000, black women were murdered at a rate more than three times higher than white women: 3.18 per 100,000 versus 1.01 per 100,000.
Age of Black Female Homicide Victims
In single female victim/single male offender homicides reported for 2000, 10 percent of the black victims were less than 18 years old (60 victims) and five percent were 65 years of age or older (27 victims). The average age of black female homicide victims was 33 years old.
Victim to Offender Relationship
Compared to a black 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 10 times as many black females were murdered by a male they knew (492 victims) than were killed by male strangers (48 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2000. Of black victims who knew their offenders, 54 percent (267 out of 492) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Ninety-five percent (575 out of 603) of the homicides of black women where the race of the male offender was known were intra-racial.
Black Female Homicide Victims and Weapons
As with female homicide victims in general, firearms – especially handguns – were the most common weapons used by males to murder black females in 2000. In the 567 homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 53 percent of black female victims (302 victims) were shot and killed with guns. And when these women were killed with a gun, it was almost always a handgun (242 victims or 80 percent). The number of black females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (150 victims) was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (48 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2000.
Black Female Homicide Victims and Circumstance
The overwhelming majority of homicides among black females by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents in 2000 were not related to any other felony crime. Most often, black females were killed by males in the course of an argument – usually with a firearm. In 2000 for the 497 homicides in which the circumstances between the black female victim and male offender could be identified, 87 percent (434 out of 497) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
Nearly two-thirds of non-felony homicides (277 out of 434) involved arguments between the black female victim and male offender. Fifty-six percent (156 victims) were shot and killed with guns during those arguments.