BACKGROUND: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a public health crisis, affecting at least 1:4 women and 1:9 men. A recent multicenter trial on universal screening in trauma patients showed similar rates of positive screens between men and women. Few studies have explored the bidirectional violence in opposite-sex or same-sex relationships. Our goal was to estimate prevalence and risk factors for the most severe manifestation of IPV: intimate partner homicide. METHODS: This is a 2003-2015 retrospective review of the National Violent Death Reporting System, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database of surveillance data. Deaths were coded IPV if the primary relationship between the suspect and victim fell into the categories of current partner or ex-partner. Bivariable and multivariable analysis examined differences between groups for factors and circumstances. RESULTS: A total of 6,131 persons in opposite-sex relationships and 181 in same-sex relationships were murdered as a result of IPV. Women and Black men were disproportionately affected, and alcohol and preceding arguments were a factor in a higher proportion of male victims. Abuse preceded homicide in many women with almost half of male suspects attempting or committing suicide at the time of intimate partner homicide. Women were more likely than men to use a stabbing instrument, although firearms were still the most common means for each group. In 46.5% of homicides of women, the male suspect attempted suicide (p < 0.001). Bidirectionality was highest in male victims of female perpetrators and in same-sex pairings regardless of sex of the victim. CONCLUSION: Homicide caused by IPV is a significant public health crisis for both men and women, with women and Black men at particular risk. Firearms are the most commonly used weapon for homicide in both sexes, and mental illness is not a common risk factor. A staggering proportion of these homicides involve suicide of the suspect, suggesting that each potential incident has two victims to target for prevention and intervention. Interventional programs to prevent such bidirectional mortality are urgently needed. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Retrospective secondary data analysis, level III.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine