Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships

Less injury but more fear when guns used by abusers

Guns and intimate partners figure prominently in the violent deaths of U.S. women. In fact, U.S. women are more than twice as likely to be shot and killed by their male intimate as they are to be fatally shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, strangled, or killed in any other way by a stranger. This study examined how guns are used by abusers in incidents that are not fatal.


In an examination of 35,413 intimate partner violence incidents reported to police, 6,573 involved hands, fists, or feet and  1,866 involved external weapons of which 576 were guns. Most incidents were male-on-female and guns were used most often to threaten the partner. When a gun was used, the offender was less like to punch, strangle, or otherwise harm the victim such that victims of gun use were less likely to be injured. However, they were more than three times as likely to be afraid.


Sorenson SB. Guns in intimate partner violence:  Comparing incidents that involve a gun, other weapon, or no weapon. Journal of Women’s Health, 2017;26(3):249-258.