Homicide among intimate partners: Differences in gender, race, relationship type, and weapon use

Joni S Eastman, University of Texas at El Paso


Texas Homicide Data from 1980 through 2002 was examined to develop a better understanding of the unique victim-offender characteristics which occur in the event of an intimate partner homicide. The FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR), Supplemental Homicide Report (SHR), contained a total of 31,793 homicide cases, of which 4,788 were classified as intimate partner homicides. Principles of exchange theory are utilized to suggest conditions under which people involved in certain circumstances may be more likely to become victims or perpetrators of an intimate partner homicide. Exchange theory views relationships as being driven by costs and rewards. When an individual invests more into a relationship than they receive, there is potential for violence. Relationship type variables reveal that cohabitating couples face a greater danger of being involved in an intimate partner homicide than dating, married, or divorced couples. Homicide data reveal that males kill more often than females, but in cohabitating relationships, females kill their intimate partners at rates similar to male intimate partner homicide offenders. For all homicides, Blacks account for the largest group of offenders, but for intimate partner homicides, it is Whites who make up the largest category of offenders. The majority of intimate partner homicides are initiated by some type of argument or fight. When males and females kill their intimate partners, most turn to the handgun as their weapon of choice. After the handgun, females are more likely to kill by using a knife, whereas males are more likely to kill by using weapons involving their physical strength, such as personal weapons, blunt objects, and strangulation.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Eastman, Joni S, "Homicide among intimate partners: Differences in gender, race, relationship type, and weapon use" (2006). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1439464.