Majority of Murdered Women Are Killed By Current or Former Partners Interview with:

EmikoPetrosky MD M.P.H Science Officer, National Violent Death Reporting System at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emory University Rollins School of Public Health

Dr. Petrosky

EmikoPetrosky MD M.P.H
Science Officer, National Violent Death Reporting System at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health What is the background for this study?

Response: Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women aged 44 years and younger. In 2015, 3,519 girls and women died by homicide in the United States.  It is the 5th leading cause of death for women under 45 years age (defining women as 18-44 years of age).

The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) links together data from death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports, resulting in more information about the circumstances of death than what is available elsewhere. What are the main findings?

Response: Findings from this study of female homicides over the period of 2003-2014 from NVDRS (18 states) show that young women, particularly racial/ethnic minority women, were disproportionately affected. Over half of female homicides were intimate partner violence (IPV)-related, with the majority of women being killed by their current or former intimate partner.

  • Non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaskan Native women had the highest rate of homicide.
  • Over half of homicides of women (55.3%) were intimate partner-violence related.
  • Among IPV-related homicides, 79.2% were perpetrated by a current intimate partner and 14.3% were perpetrated by a former intimate partner.
  • Nearly one-third of IPV-related female homicides were preceded by an argument. Another common circumstance was jealousy, which were associated with 12% of IPV-related homicides.
  • Approximately 1 in 10 victims of intimate partner violence -related homicide experienced some form of violence in the preceding month. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Intimate partner violence prevention programs and enhanced access to intervention services are needed for those experiencing IPV and to reduce homicides of women. CDC recently released a technical package, Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices, a collection of prevention strategies that describes the best available evidence to prevent intimate partner violence. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Although our study provides useful contextual information about homicides of women and identifies health disparities, more research is needed to identify the cultural, social, and environment factors that may be associated with homicide risk and how they may differ between racial/ethnic groups. Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Racial/ethnic differences in female homicide underscore the importance of targeting intervention efforts to at-risk populations and the conditions that increase the risk for violence.
  • Strategies to prevent IPV and IPV-related homicide among women occur at multiple levels:
  • Primary prevention is key, and teaching safe and healthy relationship skills has been shown to effectively reduce intimate partner violence by helping young people manage emotions and relationship conflicts and improve their problem-solving and communication skills.

o   intimate partner violence lethality risk assessments are conducted by first responders and are questions for the victim about the abusers’ past threats, drug/alcohol use, access to weapons, and past behaviors. They may be useful tools for first responders to identify women at risk for future violence and connect them with life-saving safety planning and services.

o   Bystander programs teach participants how to recognize situations or behaviors that might become violent and safely and effectively intervene to reduce the likelihood of assault.

o   Healthcare providers can play an important role in educating women about IPV and connecting those experiencing violence with intervention services and support. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Petrosky E, Blair JM, Betz CJ, Fowler KA, Jack SP, Lyons BH. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence — United States, 2003–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:741–746. DOI:

 Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.




Last Updated on July 21, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD