Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2024

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Ann Gordon


In a society where vulnerability is often associated with femininity, women are depicted as helpless victims, which in turn underscores the gendered challenges faced by both men and women. It is thought that gender disparities among women increase the likelihood of fear and risk of murder victimization. Rather, both men and women face homicide at significant rates where gender vulnerability is correlated to different types of violence. In this paper, I examine the complexities of gendered perceptions of perceived and realistic risks behind the fear of being murdered by someone you know and murdered by a stranger. Relying on the Chapman Survey of American Fears, a representative national sample of U.S. adults, I find a strong relationship between the fear of being murdered by someone you know and murder by a stranger to be significantly higher among women respondents, compared to male respondents. However, I find that men are more likely to be victims of stranger homicide, while women are more likely to be victims of intimate homicide. Based on the vulnerability theory, potential intimate partner violence perceives a higher risk of vulnerability among women than men. Along with this, the media covers cases of violence against women disproportionately, emphasizing perceptions of vulnerability to be higher among women compared to men. While women are perceived to have higher risks of murder victimization due to gender disparities and media influence, the differentiation I find is that while the majority of intimate-related homicides are women, the majority of homicide victims are male. Understanding the disconnect between gender dimensions related to fear of being murdered by someone you know and by a stranger enables a nuanced understanding to develop gender-sensitive approaches to differential violence prevention.


Presented at the Spring 2024 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.