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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- South Carolina returned to the top spot in the nation for women murdered by men with a rate of 2.32 per 100,000, according to a new Violence Policy Center report.

The recent rank has put South Carolina in the top 10 states for women murdered by men the last 18 years. It's the fourth year it has ranked as the highest, and the group notes the state's rate is more than twice the national average of 1.09 per 100,000.

The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report. 

The U.S. Department of Justice has found that women are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes committed by intimate partners than men, especially when a weapon is involved. Moreover, women are much more likely to be victimized at home than in any other location.

For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 94 percent of female victims nationwide were murdered by a male they knew. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62 percent were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.

Firearms — especially handguns — were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in 2013. Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 53 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 69 percent were killed with handguns.

“When men murder women, the most common weapon used is a gun,” says Julia Wyman, executive director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence. “Closing gaps in state and federal gun laws will save women’s lives.”

The new report uses data from 2013, the most recent year information is available. The data predates the legislative changes that came as a result of the Post and Courier special report on the state's domestic violence problems.

The group notes that there have been reforms in the state Legislature that aim to increase accountability for offenders, provides for state law prohibitions on the possession of firearms by those who have been convicted of domestic violence and requires prevention education for students in our schools. It also commented on the Domestic Violence Task Force's recommendations for changes.

“Several states including South Carolina have recently taken important steps to keep guns out of the hands of abusers,” says VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Yet in the face of these alarming statistics, more needs to be done at the federal and state levels to protect women from abuse and prevent future tragedies.”

The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, a statewide coalition made up of the 23 domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy programs in the state, hosted a noon conference call to discuss the findings.

Here are the states with the 10 highest ranks of women killed by men:

 

1 South Carolina - 2.32 per 100,000 

2 Alaska - 2.29 per 100,000 

3 New Mexico - 2.00 per 100,000 

4 Louisiana - 1.99 per 100,000

5 Nevada - 1.95 per 100,000

6 (tie)   Tennessee - 1.65 per 100,000

6 (tie)   Oklahoma - 1.65 per 100,000

8 Vermont - 1.58 per 100,000

9 Maine - 1.47 per 100,000

10  Michigan - 1.45 per 100,000

Photo Credit: Globe Turner LLC GeoNova Maps via Getty Images