Over half of the killings of American women are related to intimate partner violence, with the vast majority of the victims dying at the hands of a current or former romantic partner, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today.

The CDC analyzed the murders of women in 18 states from 2003 to 2014, finding a total of 10,018 deaths. Of those, 55 percent were intimate partner violence-related, meaning they occurred at the hands of a former or current partner or the partner’s family or friends. In 93 percent of those cases, the culprit was a current or former romantic partner. The report also bucks the strangers-in-dark-alleys narrative common to televised crime dramas: Strangers perpetrated just 16 percent of all female homicides, fewer than acquaintances and just slightly more than parents.

About a third of the time, the couple had argued right before the homicide took place, and about 12 percent of the deaths were associated with jealousy. The majority of the victims were under the age of 40, and 15 percent were pregnant. About 54 percent were gun deaths.

Black women were most likely to die by homicide of any kind, at 4.4 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Native American women, Hispanics, and finally whites and Asians. Data from earlier reports suggest a far smaller percentage of men—around 5 to 7 percent—were killed by intimate partners.

To reduce domestic violence, the CDC report recommends better bystander training and screening in doctors’ offices. The report also notes, “State statutes limiting access to firearms for persons under a domestic violence restraining order can serve as another preventive measure associated with reduced risk for intimate partner homicide and firearm intimate partner homicide.” Indeed, past studies have shown that an abuser’s possession of a gun greatly increases the risk of female homicide.

Still, loopholes in gun laws mean that abusive spouses and partners often can keep their guns, even if they can’t buy new ones. And the consequences of those loopholes, for women, can be deadly.


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