Get our free newsletter

Last year, 53 people in the state of Maryland died as a result of domestic violence. According to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, which crunches the numbers for that sad statistic, the domestic violence-related deaths for the fiscal year 2009 (July 2008—-June 2009) fell surprisingly evenly along gender lines:

  • 32 of the dead are female.
  • 21 of the dead are male.

Last year, in other words, 40 percent of people who died in Maryland as a result of domestic violence were male. Right about now, men’s rights activists are surely waiting in the wings, ready to pounce on this statistic as irrefutable evidence that men are victimized by domestic violence at nearly the same rate as women. The truth is much more complicated.

Let’s look at the numbers on the female side first (courtesy of the MNADV’s extensive research).

Of the 32 females who died as a result of domestic violence last year:

  • 3 were children.
  • 29 were adult women.

Of the 29 adult women:

  • 28 were victims of domestic violence.
  • The one remaining woman was a domestic violence aggressor who committed suicide. She is the sole occupier of the category of “females who killed themselves or were killed after committing murder/attempting to commit murder.”

Of the 28 adult female victims:

  • 10 were wives or ex-wives of the offender.
  • 17 were girlfriends or ex-girlfriends of the offender.
  • One was a domestic violence victim who committed suicide.

And on the male side of things:

Of the 21 males who died as a result of domestic violence last year:

  • 2 were children.
  • 19 were adult men.

Of the 19 adult men:

  • 9 were victims.
  • 10 were domestic violence aggressors who died as a result of their own domestic violence—-“males who killed themselves or were killed after committing murder/attempting to commit murder.”

Of the nine male victims:

  • 2 were husbands or ex-husbands of the offender.
  • 3 were boyfriends or ex-boyfriends of the offender.
  • 3 were killed by their current partner’s ex.
  • 1 was killed by his ex’s current partner.

Of the ten men who killed themselves or were killed after committing murder or attempting to commit murder:

  • 1 man was killed by the police.
  • 3 were killed by their partners in self-defense.
  • 6 committed suicide.

Of the 53 total dead:

  • 27 were killed by gun or rifle.
  • 12 were killed by knife.
  • 5 were killed by strangulation.
  • 4 were killed by vehicle.
  • 2 were killed by “physical force/hands.”
  • 2 were killed by burning
  • 1 cause of death was unknown.

Domestic violence kills in many ways. When it comes to male deaths by domestic violence, men are more likely to be killed as a result of attempting to murder their own partners than as a result of their partner’s aggression. Men who are victims of domestic violence are almost as likely to be killed by a partner’s ex than by their partners themselves. “Domestic violence is not as simple and straightforward as people think,” says Michele Cohen, MNADV’s Executive Director. “The work that we do attempts to capture the full picture of all the individuals who die as a result of domestic violence—-both victims and offenders.”

Tonight, the MNADV will hold its 22nd Annual Memorial Service for all the “women, men, and children” who died over the past year from domestic violence. Find more information about the Annapolis, Md. service here [PDF].