Fatal violence among spouses in the United States, 1976-85

Am J Public Health. 1989 May;79(5):595-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.79.5.595.


In this paper we examine patterns and trends in homicides between marriage partners in the United States for 1976 through 1985 using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Supplemental Homicide Reports (FBI-SHR). We identified 16,595 spouse homicides accounting for 8.8 per cent of all homicides reported to the FBI-SHR during this 10-year period. The rate of spouse homicide for this 10-year period was 1.6 per 100,000 married persons. The risk of being killed by one's spouse was 1.3 times greater for wives than for husbands. Black husbands were at greater risk of spouse homicide victimization than Black wives or White spouses of either sex. The risk of victimization was greater for spouses in interracial than in intraracial marriages and increased as age differences between spouses increased. From 1976 through 1985, the risk of spouse homicide declined by more than 45.0 per cent for both Black husbands and wives but remained relatively stable for White husbands and wives. Demographic patterns in the risk of spouse homicide were similar to those reported for nonfatal spouse abuse suggesting that the causes of spouse homicide and nonfatal spouse abuse may be similar.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Homicide*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • White People