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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Surveillance for Homicide Among Intimate Partners, United States, 1981 - 1998

General Material

The study summary provides victim rates for intimate partner homicide by age, sex (male, female), race (Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, White, Black), place of residence, community population size, state, geographic location, month or year killed, weapon type used, and type of intimate partner relationship (spouse, ex-spouse, common-law spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, same-sex). The analysis also comments on related research findings from other studies to compare rates of fatal versus nonfatal intimate partner violence.

Some highlights from this study summary include:

  • Overall Trends: During 1981 - 1998, rates of intimate partner homicide decreased steadily, for an overall reduction of 47.2%.
  • Rates by Gender: Overall, rates among males decreased 67.8%, and rates among females decreased 30.1%. Women were 1.6 times more likely to die of an intimate partner homicide than were men. Rates were highest among females aged 20-39 years and males aged 30-49.
  • Rates by Race: Rates among blacks were 4.6 times rates among whites.
  • Type of Intimate Partner Relationship: About half the intimate partner homicides against both women and men were committed by legal spouses.
  • Community Population Size: The risk of intimate partner homicide increases with the size of the community.
  • Geographic Region: Southern and Western U.S. states have the highest rates of intimate partner homicide among women.


Data Collection and Scope and Limitations: This study's data comes from the FBI's Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR) which are produced as part of their Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR). When any homicide occurs in the U.S., participating UCR police departments submit a reporting form to the FBI; this reporting form records any known information about the relationship between the homicide victim and offender. The data in this form is not updated to reflect any subsequent investigation. As this study summary states, the SHR data accuracy suffers significantly from underreporting and other errors or missing information including assignment of relationship types. Additionally, because SHR relationship categories do not have a separate category for ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, this information is not included in the study. This study also excluded homicides where there was more than one victim over the age of 10 years old, or where the victim's age, sex, or race information was missing from the reporting form. It also excludes negligent homicides, homicides termed justifiable, and homicides resulting from legal intervention. This study presents no separate data summaries about the Latina/os population.

This Surveillance Summary of the study's findings was published October 12, 2001 as Vol. 50, SS-3 of the U.S. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).