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Characteristics of the Residential Neighborhood Environment Differentiate Intimate Partner Femicide in Urban Versus Rural Settings


  • Funding: This work was supported in part by the Clinical & Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin: NIH UL1RR031973. The Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System is supported by cooperative agreement #U17/CCU523099 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Injury and Violence Prevention Program. The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the US government or the funding sources named.

  • Acknowledgments: Thanks to Amy Schlotthauer and Donna Peterson of the Medical College of Wisconsin Injury Research Center; Becky Turpin of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services; the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and consultant Jane Sadusky; and Medical College of Wisconsin Reference Librarian Rita Sieracki.

For further information, contact: Kirsten M. M. Beyer, PhD, Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226; e-mail:



A growing body of work examines the association between neighborhood environment and intimate partner violence (IPV). As in the larger literature examining the influence of place context on health, rural settings are understudied and urban and rural residential environments are rarely compared. In addition, despite increased attention to the linkages between neighborhood environment and IPV, few studies have examined the influence of neighborhood context on intimate partner femicide (IPF). In this paper, we examine the role for neighborhood-level factors in differentiating urban and rural IPFs in Wisconsin, USA.


We use a combination of Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System (WVDRS) data and Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV) reports from 2004 to 2008, in concert with neighborhood-level information from the US Census Bureau and US Department of Agriculture, to compare urban and rural IPFs.


Rates of IPF vary based on degree of rurality, and bivariate analyses show differences between urban and rural victims in race/ethnicity, marital status, country of birth, and neighborhood characteristics. After controlling for individual characteristics, the nature of the residential neighborhood environment significantly differentiates urban and rural IPFs.


Our findings suggest a different role for neighborhood context in affecting intimate violence risk in rural settings, and that different measures may be needed to capture the qualities of rural environments that affect intimate violence risk. Our findings reinforce the argument that multilevel strategies are required to understand and reduce the burden of intimate violence, and that interventions may need to be crafted for specific geographical contexts.