MYTH: Only a small percentage of the population is affected by domestic violence.
FACT: Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country. The FBI estimates a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. 30% of female homicide victims are killed by partners or ex-partners and 1,500 women are murdered as a result of domestic violence each year in the United States.
MYTH: Domestic violence is a “loss of control.”
FACT: Violent behavior is a choice. Perpetrators use it to control their victims. Domestic violence is about abusers using their control, not losing their control. Their actions are very deliberate.
MYTH: The real problem is couples who assault each other. Women are just as violent as men.
FACT: The U.S. Department of Justice has found that 85% of the victims of spousal abuse are female. Men can be victims, but it’s rarely reported.
MYTH: Battered women are usually poor, uneducated and possess few job skills.
FACT: Domestic violence does not discriminate among sex, race, class, age, sexual orientation or educational levels.
MYTH: Drinking causes violent behavior.
FACT: Many batterers also abuse alcohol, and a violent situation may escalate with drinking. But, alcohol DOES NOT CAUSE the violence. Drunkenness is no excuse for violence.
MYTH: A battered partner can always leave the home – “If it’s so bad, why don’t they just leave?”
FACT: Economic and emotional dependency, children and threats all make it difficult to leave a violent relationship. Instead of asking “why don’t they leave”, why not ask “why doesn’t the abuser stop abusing their partner?”. Approximately 50% of homeless women and children are fleeing an abusive relationship.
MYTH: People who abuse their partners rarely abuse their children, and children who merely witness the abuse are not adversely affected.
FACT: More than 3 million children witness acts of domestic violence every year. Children who witness violence are 6 times more likely to attempt suicide, and 50% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. In 60% of violent homes, children are beaten as well. 81% of abusers were abused as children or witnessed abuse at home.
MYTH: Batterers are violent in all their relationships.
FACT: Batterers choose to be violent toward their partners in ways they would never consider treating other people.
MYTH: Most victims who are able to leave a violent relationship will not return to it.
FACT: Victims leave an abusive relationship an average of 7 times before they leave for good, but 60-70% of victims do eventually get out.
MYTH: The victim is responsible for the abuse because they “provoke” the abuser.
FACT: The person abusing others is responsible for their own actions. They have many options for dealing with their anger.
MYTH: Once a battered woman, always a battered woman.
FACT: While some battered women have been in more than one abusive relationship, women who receive domestic violence services are the least likely to enter another abusive relationship.
MYTH: Battering incidents do not increase in severity over time.
FACT: THE VIOLENCE ALWAYS GETS WORSE! Domestic violence causes almost 100,000 days of hospitalization, 30,000 days of emergency room visits and 40,000 trips to the doctor every year.
MYTH: Men are more likely to help a woman being attacked by a man than to help a man being attacked by another man.
FACT: Men are more likely to intervene in a fight between two men than in a fight between a woman and a man. Most people believe that domestic violence is a “private affair” and none of anyone else’s business.
MYTH: A woman cannot be raped by her husband.
FACT: Marital rape is the most under reported crime. Twice as many women have been raped by their husbands than by strangers. It is estimated that 20-30% of all women who are battered are also routinely raped as a part of the general pattern of abuse. In many states, it is legal for a man to rape his wife.
MYTH: It is uncommon for a husband to beat his wife during her pregnancy.
FACT: 25% of battered women are physically abused during pregnancy.
MYTH: Domestic violence is usually a one time, isolated occurrence.
FACT: Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercion and control that one person exerts over another. It’s not just one physical attack, but includes the repeated use of a number of tactics – intimidation, threats, economic deprivation, isolation, psychological and sexual abuse. Physical violence is just one of these tactics. The various forms of abuse maintain power and control.
MYTH: Men have a right to discipline their partners for misbehaving. Battering is not a crime.
FACT: While our society derives from a patriarchal legal system that once afforded men the right to physically chastise their wives and children, we do not live under such a system now. Women and children are no longer considered the property of men, and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A CRIME IN EVERY STATE IN THE COUNTRY.