5 Terrifying Facts About Violence Against Women

A recent report centers around an upsetting fact: In the U.S., 1,600 women were killed by men in 2013. The new study, from the Violence Policy Center, which was released Tuesday, looks at which women were killed, racial disparities in murder rates, and details of the crimes — in anticipation of of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which starts October 1.

According to the report, the state with the most crimes in which a man kills a woman is South Carolina, with 57 murders, although Alaska comes in a close second, and a number of other states aren't much further behind. The report also identifies more gun regulation as the primary change that could lower the rate.

Here are five of the biggest takeaways:

Women are almost always killed by someone they know.
Based on the numbers, out of the 1,530 murders where authorities could determine whether there was a relationship between the murderer and his victim, she knew the man who killed her in 1,438 cases — which is 94% of all cases. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a woman is 15 times more likely to be killed by a man she knows than by a stranger. This statistic shouldn’t be surprising: Approximately 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

Guns make deadly domestic violence more likely.
In those instances when police knew what sort of weapon was used, more than half the killings were committed with firearms. And the risk of homicide goes up 500% for women in domestic-violence situations where guns are present, according to research published by the National Journal of Public Health. Some states have started to discuss regulations that would make it harder for people with records of domestic violence to get firearms, but many of those efforts have been stymied by pro-gun groups.

Things are getting better for Black women — but they still face an incredible amount of violence.
The homicide rate for Black women killed by men has gone down nearly 40% since the Violence Policy Center started looking at FBI data. That’s a significant drop — from 3.88 per 100,000 to 2.36 per 100,000 — but Black women are still killed at two-and-a-half times the rate of white women. Native American and Alaskan women are also killed at a higher rate than white women. We haven't collected enough data to know how often Latina women are killed by men.

Violence usually isn't connected to other crimes.
Based on the statistics that the VPC studied, only 15% of the cases where circumstances were known involved crimes such as robbery or sexual assault. That means 85% of women murdered in 2013 were killed because violence was the main goal, not a side effect. That's more than 1,000 women.

Fewer women overall are being killed than in the '90s.
Thirty-one percent fewer women were killed by a man in 2013 than in 1996. This is a much-needed improvement, and years of declining violent crime nationwide suggest these numbers could drop further. But many women are still killed with guns by men they know or have intimate relationships with, and the simplest way to stop those killings would be to make it harder to get guns, and especially so for men with histories of abuse.

“These grim facts make clear the reality of lethal violence by men against women and the role played by guns in escalating domestic abuse to domestic homicide,” said Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Far more needs to be done to keep women safe from domestic abusers. At both the federal and state levels, elected officials should adopt new laws and policies to protect victims of domestic violence. An important priority should be to ensure that men with a history of domestic abuse do not have access to guns.”

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