On Monday morning, Karen Smith went to work at the elementary school where she taught in San Bernardino, California. By noon, she was dead. Smith was fatally shot by her husband, Cedric Anderson, whom she had recently left and was reportedly considering divorcing, according to police. Anderson also shot two of the children in Smith’s classroom, killing an 8-year-old boy and wounding a 9-year-old.
According to the Violence Policy Center, which uses Bureau of Justice statistics in annual reports about female homicide victims, nearly three women are murdered every day in the U.S. by current or former romantic partners. Advocates told NBC News that many abusive partners turn deadly when a victim tries to leave a relationship.
“Lethality increases the moment a woman says she’s leaving,” said Tiffany Turner-Allen, program director at UJIMA, the National Center on Violence in the Black Community.
While domestic violence occurs across boundaries of race, class, and gender, black women like Karen Smith are disproportionately affected, according to statistics. African-American women only make up about 13 percent of U.S. women, but comprise about half of female homicide victims — the majority of whom were killed by current or former boyfriends or husbands.