Black women more likely victims of domestic violence than Whites



(l-r) Shelia Hankins and Dr. Oliver Williams, co-directors of Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
(l-r) Shelia Hankins and Dr. Oliver Williams, co-directors of Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a new national study finds that nine out of 10 Black women are most likely killed by a gun by someone they know.

The Washington D.C.-based Violence Policy Center (VPC) recently released “When Men Murder Women” that used 2012 FBI homicide data. It points out that “a Black female is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance or a family member than by a stranger. Most often, Black females were killed by males in the course of an argument.”

“Our main goal of this is to raise awareness and make more resources available to women, particularly those who are in abusive situations, to really educate about the dangers of homicide,” says VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand during an MSR phone interview.

Nationwide, 1,706 females in 2012 were murdered by males — 468 were Black, according to the VPC study, which did a state-by-state ranking. Black women were killed at a rate of 2.36 per 100,000 as compared to 0.95 per 100,000 for White women.

The study ranks South Carolina with the highest rate of females murdered by males in single-victim/single-offender incidents, followed by Alaska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee and Oklahoma (tie), Vermont, Maine and Michigan.

Doing a closer analysis by race, the MSR found the states with the highest number of Black females murdered are:  Georgia (51), Louisiana and Missouri (23), Tennessee (21), South Carolina (18) and Mississippi (14) during the same period the VPC studied.

When asked about women who commit murder largely due to domestic abuse, “We do not have additional data on what the situation was in any particular case or if there was a history of abuse,” admits Rand.

According to the VPC, three of the 22 females murdered by males in Minnesota in 2013 were Black. Despite the low number in the state cited in the report, violence against Black females in other states “tends to be higher than other groups over the years.”

“This is not new,” says Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) Co-Director Dr. Oliver Williams in an MSR phone interview. “What we’ve got to do [is] to recognize that violence is an issue for us, whether it’s Black male or female, in terms of homicide and also in incidents of abuse.” Williams is professor of School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. “The big scoop to me is, ‘What is the impact of violence on African American women on a regular basis?’” says Williams.

IDVAAC, according to their website, addresses the concept that “the one-size-fits-all approach to domestic violence services being provided in mainstream communities would not suffice for African Americans, who disproportionately experience stressors that can create conditions that lead to violence in the home.”

In keeping with this concept, IDVAAC has introduced “Speaking of Faith: Domestic Violence Programs and The African American Church,” a DVD and readers’ guide program that according to the website, is used by church leaders to help “explore how faith leaders and the church as a whole can respond to how violence produces a crisis of faith with victims of abuse.” Williams explained that the DVD is for victims of abuse of both genders, and added that close to 1,000 churches around the U.S. use the program.


For more information on Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, go to their website:

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