In a study published by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) analyzing data from their “When Men Murder Women” annual report, only eight states ranked in the top 10 in the rate of females killed by males in more than half of the past 25 years. South Carolina ranked in the top 10 states for 23 out of the 25 years.

The “When Men Murder Women” report was halted this year due to changes in how the FBI collects crime data; however, the findings reported in the VPC’s “When Men Murder Women: A Review of 25 Years of Female Homicide Victimization in the United States” study clearly shows South Carolina’s real and terrible history when it comes to intimate partner violence.

Nationally, rates increased more substantially among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native females compared to other races during this 25-year period. The percentage of Black female victims killed with a gun increased dramatically in the past decade, from 51 percent in 2011 to 72 percent in 2020.

Most women murdered by men knew their killers. Over the past 25 years, 92 percent of female victims knew the men who killed them. Fifty-three percent of female victims killed by males were killed with a firearm, the majority of which were handguns.

Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that the abusive partner will kill his female victim and significant gaps remain that allow abusers to continue to have access to guns. As the VPC study states, “The picture that has become clearer every year, for the past 25 years, is that for women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but rather to take them.”

The pattern this data shows of the high levels of violence against women in this state speak volumes, and more than any isolated year’s data. Above all, it underscores the incredible amount of work needed to end violence in our communities.