In South Carolina as much as anywhere, domestic violence is a vicious cycle.
With October designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Violence Policy Center in Washington has released its latest report, “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data.” The annual report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. It is not good news for South Carolina.
Alaska ranks first in the nation in the rate of women killed by men: 2.86 per 100,000. Ranked behind Alaska are Nevada, Louisiana and Tennessee with rates of 2.29, 2.22 and 2.10 respectively.
South Carolina is fifth with a rate of 1.83 per 100,000. This is the sixth year in a row that South Carolina has been in the top five states for women murdered by men.
The annual report uses 2015 data, the most recent year for which information is available. The study uses data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
Key findings include:
• Nationwide, 1,686 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2015, at a rate of 1.12 per 100,000. Of the 1,686 female homicide victims, 1,110 were white, 476 were black, 48 were Asian or Pacific Islander, 28 were American Indian or Alaskan Native, and in 24 cases the race of the victim was not identified.
• In 2015, black females were murdered by men at a rate of 2.43 per 100,000, more than twice the rate of 0.96 per 100,000 for white women murdered by men.
• Nine out of 10 victims knew their offenders. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Fourteen times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.
• Firearms — especially handguns — were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in 2015. Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 55 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 69 percent were killed with handguns.
• The overwhelming majority of these homicides were not related to any other felony crime, such as rape or robbery. Nationwide, for homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 84 percent of the homicides were not related to the commission of another felony. Most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument between the victim and the offender.
“Women killed by men are most often killed by someone they know and more than half were killed by an intimate partner,” Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand said. “Much more must be done to identify and implement strategies to prevent these tragedies. More resources are needed at the federal, state and local levels to help keep women safe.”
If there is good news in anything to do with the statistics, it is that during the 20 years that the Violence Policy Center has been publishing the report, the nationwide rate of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has dropped 29 percent — from 1.57 per 100,000 in 1996 to 1.12 per 100,000 in 2015.
But can it be said that any number of such deaths is acceptable? No.
The focus on this violence is necessary. Hopefully, calling constant attention to the problem will promote both community outcries (neighbors not remaining silent to the problem) and growing awareness on the part of men that women are to be respected, not abused.