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When murdered by men, nine out of 10 Black women are almost always likely to be killed by someone they know, usually with a gun according to a study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) in its September 2020 issue of “When Men Murder Women.”

The study used 2018 data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report and focused on instances involving one female victim and one male offender. The VPC publishes this report annually before Domestic Violence Awareness month in October. In the 2020 issue, the VPC highlights disproportionate violence against Black women which is largely disregarded.

“The disproportionate burden of fatal and nonfatal violence borne by Black females has almost always been overshadowed by the toll violence has taken on Black males,” said the study.

Each topic covered in the report looked at data on violence affecting Black women and compares them to their white counterparts. In 2018, Black women were murdered by men at almost double the rate per 100,000 than white women.

The VPC puts a spotlight on violence against women and its commonalities that are often overlooked. For many women, violence comes from unexpected sources like intimate partners or family members and takes place in the home or during arguments. The study finds that for Black women, “where the relationship could be determined, 91% of Black females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killers.”

Violence in domestic spaces is exacerbated by the possession of firearms, the study found. The VPC explored gun violence extensively and found that having guns in a woman’s home can escalate situations of domestic violence and result in domestic homicide and non-fatal shootings. This evidence supports the VPC’s emphasis on limiting possession of firearms—specifically handguns—in homes and recommends that a woman “consider the risks of having a gun in her home, whether she is in a domestic violence situation or not.” 
“Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapons used by males to murder Black females,” said the study. “When the murder weapon could be identified, 64% of Black female victims were shot and killed with guns. Within that group, 70% were killed with a handgun.”

Even without firearms in the home, gun possession still poses a threat to women when an abuser is an owner. While there are federal laws which prevent domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, not all states allow the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to see records of domestic violence protective orders. This allows for abusers to proceed unnoticed in firearm transactions.

With each annual “When Men Murder Women” report, the VPC draws similar conclusions, emphasizing the increasing gravity of violence against women and the need for change.

“The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know,” said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Although advocates and many community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence, there is still much more work to be done to protect women in harm’s way.”