National Data on Intimate Partner Violence


Intimate Partner Homicide

Between 1993 and 2007 the overall rate of murders of women fell 43%, from 4.18 to 2.38 homicides per 100,000 female U.S. residents.13

About 1/3 of female murder victims aged 12 or older are killed by an intimate partner, vs. roughly 3% of male victims.14

IPV is a leading cause of homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy.15

In 2007:

  • Intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S., killing an estimated 1,640 women and 700 men.16 
  • 1,818 women in the US were killed by men in single victim/single offender incidents, as reported to the FBI’s 2009 Supplementary Homicide Reports.  Where the victim/offender relationship was known, 63% were killed by an intimate partner (likely an underestimate, as ex-girlfriends were not included) – 550 of them with a firearm – most often a handgun.17
  • Black women were murdered at a rate nearly 2.5 times higher than white women: 2.62 per 100,000 versus 1.06 per 100,000.18

Aggregate data from 1980 – 2008,19 mostly gathered from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and Supplementary Homicide Reports, shows that: 

  • Most victims were in the 18-34 age group (49%) or 35-49 age group (34%).
  • Most offenders fell in the same two age groups with 47% and 35% respectively.
  • Where the victim/offender relationship was known, female murder victims were almost 6 times more likely than male murder victims to have been killed by an intimate (42% vs 7%).
    • 2 out of 5 female murder victims were killed by an intimate.
    • The percentage of females killed by an intimate has remained relatively stable – 43% in 1980 vs. 45% in 2008, after a dip to 38% in 1995. 
  • 56% of male murder victims were killed by an acquaintance; another 25% were murdered by a stranger. The percentage of males killed by an intimate fell from 10% in 1980 to 5% in 2008, a 53% drop.
  • The percentage of homicides committed by an intimate partner using a firearm declined from 69% in 1980 to 51% in 2008, a 26% decline.
  • In 1980, 69% of all intimate homicides were committed by a spouse. By 2008, a nearly equal proportion was committed by a boyfriend or girlfriend (49% vs. 47% by a spouse).

The risk of a woman being killed by an intimate partner significantly increases when the abuser:

  • Has access to a gun and has made previous threats or assaults with a gun.
  • Threatens murder.
  • Forces sex.
  • Attempts to strangle the victim.
  • Is extremely jealous.
  • Is physically violent with increasing severity and/or frequency.
  • Abuses drugs or alcohol.20
    • Over 80% of men who killed or abused a female partner were problem drinkers in the year before the incident.21
    • More than 2/3 of homicide and attempted homicide offenders were intoxicated at the time of the incident, compared to fewer than 1/4 of their victims.22
    • More than 1/4 of homicide offenders used both alcohol and drugs during the incident, compared to just under 6% of non-lethal partner abusers.23

The risk of homicide is also increased if:

  • The victim has recently separated from the offender.
  • There is a child in the home who is not biologically related to the offender.
  • The offender stalks the victim.
  • The victim is abused during pregnancy.
  • The offender is unemployed.24
Next: Teen Dating Violence

  1. Catalano et al, op.cit.
  2. Fox, J.A. & Zawitz, M.W., (2007). Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide, Bureau of Justice Statistics
  3. Frye V. (2001). Examining Homicide’s Contribution to Pregnancy-Associated Deaths. JAMA, 285 (11): 1510-1511.
  4. Catalano et al, (2009). op.cit.
  5. Violence Policy Center, (2010). When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Cooper, A. & Smith, E.L. (2011).  Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  8. Campbell, J.C., et al, (2003). Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide. NIJ Journal #250 (November), NCJ 196547.
  9. Sharps, P. et al, (2003). Risky Mix: Drinking, Drug Use, and Homicide, NIJ Journal, Issue # 250 (November), National Institute of Justice, NCJ 196546.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N. (1998). National Violence Against Women Survey.