Dispelling the Myths of Domestic Violence

Myth:     Domestic abuse is less serious than other crimes.

Truth:     Domestic violence accounts for a significant proportion of all serious crimes-aggravated assaults, rape and homicides.

Myth:     Domestic abuse happens in poor families or in families of color.

Truth:     Domestic abuse occurs in all economic, racial, religious and cultural backgrounds. People with few economic resources/options are more likely to call law enforcement for assistance.

Myth:     “Minor” incidents of violence are normal in every relationship.

Truth:     Violence usually does not occur until other forms of control have failed and tends to escalate. No level of violence should occur in a healthy family.

Myth:     Bad relationships result in or cause domestic violence.

Truth:     Violence is a learned behavior where the abuser believes there is a right to abuse. This behavior can also be unlearned in treatment if an abuser recognizes it as a problem and wants to change how to deal with the need to control and use of violence.

Myth:     Alcohol and drug use cause domestic violence.

Truth:     Many people use alcohol and drugs and are not violent. However, when these substances are used during a violence incident, injuries tend to be more serious and the police are more likely to be contacted for assistance.

Myth:        Stress causes domestic violence.

Truth:        Everyone has stress in his/her life. Abusers believe they have the right to “take out their stress” on their victim.

Myth:        “It takes two to tango.” Domestic abuse is often provoked.

Truth:        No one can make another person be violent. It is a choice made by the abuser.

Myth:        Men are not abused at the same frequency as woman.

Truth:        Federal studies show that women are the victims in over 90% of violent incidents between intimate partners.

Myth:        Batterers “just snap.”

Truth:        If being out of control caused the violence, there would be more homicides. Many batterers are so in control they make sure that injuries inflicted on their victim will be less visible parts of a victim body.

Myth:        Leaving an abusive relationship will ensure safety for a victim and their children.

Truth: When an abuser learns that a victim is leaving the relationship or has taken a step to stop the power and control (i.e. calling the police, getting a restraining order, filing for divorce) the risk of homicide or serious bodily harm to the victim and her children increases dramatically.

Myth:    No one would hit a pregnant woman especially not the father of the child.

Truth:   There is a very high incidence of battering during pregnancy. Many victims are physically battered for the first time during their pregnancies.

Myth:     Abuse to elders is not domestic violence.

Truth:    Many elders are physically or emotionally abused or financially exploited by family members or others who hide behind the excuse of the caregiver stress.

Myth:      Abuse in same sex relationship is mutual.

Truth:    Same sex domestic violence involves similar issues of power and control and the predominant aggressor analysis should be used.

Myth:       Domestic abuse is more prevalent and is condoned in the immigrant population.

Truth: Immigrant populations are not more violent than the general population. immigrant victims of domestic abuse may be afraid to report their abuse for fear of deportation of themselves, their children and their abusers.

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