Myths and Facts of Domestic Violence

MYTH #1: Battering only affects a small percentage of the population.
FACT: One out of five women will be physically assaulted by her partner.

MYTH #2: People who are battered stay in the situation because they like being abused.
FACT: No one likes to be abused. Most persons being abused (emotionally, financially, physically, etc.) make many efforts to stop the violence. The reasons they stay in relationships are varied and complex. They may still love the non-abusive side of their partner, may question; if they leave where will they go, how will they survive, how will the children cope/adjust, who will get custody, is it safe to exchange children? It is important to realize that the most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship and their children is when they leave the relationship. This is the time when many persons and their children are severely beaten or killed.

We must think of the complexity of this issue the next time we ask, “Why don’t they just leave?” Remember instead of asking that, ask: “Why aren’t abusers held accountable for their actions?”

MYTH #3: Only poor, minority women are severely battered.
FACT: Battering affects people of all: gender, age, social, economic, educational, religious, and ethnic classes.

MYTH #4: Persons who are battered are uneducated and have few job skills.
FACT: Battering affects a broad spectrum of people and children of any gender; from those who are economically dependent on their partners to those who are highly skilled professionals. Anyone can be a victim.

MYTH #5: Batterers are unsuccessful in life and lack resources to cope with the world.
FACT: Batterers represent a broad spectrum of individuals. Batterers who choose to batter are represented in all professions and vocations: doctors, lawyers, ministers, police officers, social workers, teachers, factory workers, truck drivers…and on and on and on…

MYTH #6: Alcohol and drugs cause battering.
FACT: Abusers abuse when drunk or sober. Those who drink use the drinking to excuse their behavior. (In reality they get drunk so they can say that they are not responsible for their behavior.)

MYTH #7: The abuser is just “out of control.”
FACT: The abuser is very much in control. The abuser chooses whom they abuse, where and how they abuse them. Abusers usually decided when it is safest to do so which allows them to suffer no or lessened consequences for their actions.

MYTH #8: Victims provoke beatings by pushing their partner beyond their breaking point. They are asking to get hit.
FACT: The person exhibiting the behavior is the one responsible for that behavior. A person can provoke a feeling, such as anger, but what a person chooses to do with that anger, like striking someone, is their responsibility. Anger is a feeling; violence is a behavior. Each of us is responsible for our own behaviors.

MYTH #9: Marriage or couples counseling is a good recommendation for people in abusive relationships.
FACT: Abuse is a control issue, not a communication issue. Marital therapy is not only ineffective for the couple; it is unsafe for the person being abused. Only when the abuse has stopped for a long period of time, and the abuser takes responsibility for the use of violence, can couples counseling be helpful. It is recommended to utilize individual counseling.

MYTH #10: Therapy will stop the violence. If the abuser goes to therapy, the victim will be safe at home.
FACT: The best way for a victim to stop the violence is to separate from the abuser. If the abuser stays in therapy for twelve to 24 months, and takes full responsibility for the violence, the victim may be safe to live with him/her. However, it is not known for certain that therapy is completely effective.