Misconceptions and myths regarding domestic violence can come from a place of not thoroughly understanding why someone may want to inflict physical harm to their significant other, wanting to help or media-driven ideas of relationship violence, but these misconceptions and myths can be harmful to the abused, isolating them and even putting them further in harm. In hopes to educate, here are some myths and facts that debunk them from the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence (ACESDV).
MYTH: Domestic violence is a private family matter.
FACT: Domestic Violence is everyone’s business. Keeping domestic violence secret helps no one, has been shown to harm children, incurs substantial costs to society, and serves to perpetrate abuse through learned patterns of behavior.
MYTH: Most of the time, domestic violence is not really that serious.
FACT: Domestic violence is an illegal act in the U.S. and is considered a crime with serious repercussions. Although there are aspects of domestic violence (example: emotional, psychological, sexual abuse) that may not be considered criminal in a legal sense, serious and long-lasting physical, emotional and sexual harm can, and often does, occur. Each and every act of domestic violence needs to be taken seriously.
MYTH: Victims provoke their partners’ violence.
FACT: Whatever problems exist in a relationship, the use of violence is never justifiable or acceptable. There is NO EXCUSE for domestic violence.
MYTH: Domestic violence is an impulse control or anger management problem.
FACT: Abusers act deliberately and with forethought. Abusers choose whom to abuse. For example, an abuser will selectively batter their partner but not their boss.
MYTH: Domestic violence is bad, but it happens elsewhere. It doesn’t happen in my community, my neighborhood, my culture, my religion, or my congregation.
FACT: Domestic violence happens to people of every educational and socioeconomic level. Domestic violence happens in all races, religions, and age groups. Domestic violence occurs in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
MYTH: It is easy for a victim to leave their abuser, so if he/she doesn’t leave, it means he/she likes the abuse or is exaggerating how bad it is.
FACT: Fear, lack of safe options, and the inability to survive economically prevent many victims from leaving abusive relationships. Threats of harm, including death to the victim and/or children, keep many battered women trapped in abusive situations. The most dangerous time for a victim is when she attempts to leave the relationship, or when the abuser discovers that he/she has made plans to leave.
MYTH: Domestic violence can occur in older women, but it is quite rare.
FACT: Approximately half of all elder abuse in women is thought to be domestic violence “grown old.” Older battered women are less likely to seek and receive help.
MYTH: Anger management programs are briefer, more cost-effective than, and just as successful as certified batterer intervention programs.
FACT: Although briefer and less expensive than certified batterer intervention programs, anger management programs are not effective to address the deep-rooted issues of batterers.