A Review of 25 Years of Female Homicide Victimization in the United States

When Men Murder Women:

A Review of 25 Years of Female Homicide Victimization in the United States

For the past 25 years, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) has published its annual study When Men Murder Women.a Released for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the studies analyzed data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) and ranked the states by their rates of females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents. In addition to ranking the states by this homicide victimization rate, the studies also offered information on the age and race of these female homicide victims, victim to offender relationship, circumstance, and weapon type.

This study summarizes the findings of these reports and the patterns and characteristics of these homicides between 1996 and 2020.

Among the key findings over the past two and a half decades of analysis are the following:

  • A total of 45,817 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents between 1996 and 2020. Of these, 29,503 victims were white (64 percent), 14,038 were Black (31 percent), 1,216 were Asian or Pacific Islander (three percent), and 522 were American Indian/Alaska Native (one percent). Information about race was missing for 538 victims (one percent).
  • National homicide rates of females killed by males decreased slightly between 1996 and 2014, and then began increasing in 2015.
  • Rates increased more substantially among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native females compared to other races.
  • The percentage of Black female victims killed with a gun has increased dramatically in the past decade, from 51 percent in 2011 to 72 percent in 2020.
  • Most women killed by men know their killers. Among all homicides over the past 25 years, 92 percent of female victims knew their male killers.
  • Among female victims who knew their male killers, 61 percent were murdered by an intimate partner.
  • Fifty-three percent of female victims were killed with a firearm, the majority of which were handguns.