Homicide is the fifth-leading cause of death for American women under 44, and more than half of murders are partner-related, meaning they occurred at the hands of a former or current partner or the partner’s family or friends, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. In the report, released yesterday, the CDC analyzed homicide statistics from 18 states and found 10,018 women murder victims between 2003 and 2014, 55 percent of whom were killed in intimate partner violence-related incidents.
Of that 55 percent, 93 percent were killed by current or former romantic partners, the report found, and most women had also been victims of other crimes, like assault, rape, or sexual assault. Eighteen percent of the total deaths detailed in the CDC report were murder-suicides. These incidents typically involve romantic partners, according to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
These statistics echo what the CDC and domestic violence advocacy organizations have been saying for a long time: intimate partner violence is a national public health crisis. When left unchecked, violence against women can quickly escalate to larger, deadlier incidents. The man who drove a truck into a crowd of people on Bastille Day in Nice last year had a history of domestic violence; the gunman who shot Rep. Steve Scalise in June was previously arrested for beating his foster daughter and threatening her with a gun.
Gun control advocates say that approximately 50 women are fatally shot by current or former partners each month. Next week, Washington will become the first state to alert domestic violence victims when their abusers try to buy guns. But this is a stopgap measure at best, since only 19 states require background checks for gun sales — and anyone, domestic abusers included, can travel across state lines to buy weapons.