Report finds Wisconsin ranks 8th in the nation for number of women killed by men

MADISON, Wis. — When it comes to the rate of women murdered by men, Wisconsin ranks eighth in the nation for intimate partner violence. That’s according to the most recent “Why Men Murder Women” study, an annual report published by the Violence Policy Center.

While October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the updated report makes it clear that in Wisconsin, awareness can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

Using data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, the study found in 2020, the national domestic violence homicide rate per 100,000 females was 1.34. In the same year, Wisconsin reported a rate of 2.05, equating to 60 victims. That number may not mean much — until you look at previous years. Data shows that Wisconsin domestic violence homicides increased by 150% from 2019 to 2020, 250% from 2015 to 2020, and 300% from 2010 to 2020.

Advocates attribute Wisconsin’s high rate of domestic violence homicide to four main things. The first reason is access to guns, with advocates referencing the End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin’s 2021 Homicide Report. In it, data showed that of the perpetrators who used a firearm to murder an intimate partner, over one-third were not legally able to possess one.

The next problem advocates are concerned about is a lack of protection for victims.

“A lot of times what we see is someone will file a restraining order, and there is a form that you can fill out to surrender firearms,” said Darlene Master, the executive director for Family Advocates, Inc., a domestic violence shelter located in Platteville. “But in our area, and most of Wisconsin, we have rural hunting areas. So then it’s, ‘well, I hunt, do I have to give my gun up?’ and so oftentimes, perpetrators are allowed to keep their guns because they hunt. And then that surrender firearm form never gets used.”

The third reason is a lack of understanding when it comes to domestic abuse.

“We need to work together as a society, we need to change the way that we look at victims, we need to change the way that we look at perpetrators,” Master said. “Perpetrators need to be held accountable, and victims need to be helped and not shamed.”

Finally, Master said people need to be more aware of the fact that anyone, anywhere, can be a victim of domestic violence.

“Every four and a half days, somebody in Wisconsin is killed due to domestic violence,” Master said. “Something has to change, and people need to step up and realize that this is happening in your neighborhood.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there are resources available to help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7 at 800-799-7233. DAIS — Domestic Abuse Intervention Services — can be reached by phone at 608-251-4445, by text 24/7 at 608-420-4638 or online at abuseintervention.org.

For resources across the state, and the southern Wisconsin region, in particular, click or tap here.