Domestic Violence: Common Myths and Facts
Domestic violence is a destructive crime that creates life-altering damage for everyone involved. In order for our community to have a better understanding of the issue of domestic violence, we have to start by separating fact from fiction. Below, are a few common myths about domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a private family matter.
Domestic violence is a crime—a crime as serious as any other. It is against the law. By failing to speak out against domestic violence, we condone it. We minimize it. We give violent people social permission to continue their abuse.
Domestic violence is only physical.
According to the United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, the definition of domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. Physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological abuse, as well as stalking and cyberstalking are some of the types of abuse that are included in the definition of domestic violence.
Domestic violence only happens to certain people and genders.
Domestic violence does not discriminate against sex, race, class, age, sexual orientation, or education levels.
Victims provoke their partner’s violence.
The person abusing others is responsible for their own actions. There is NOTHING a victim does to instigate or warrant the abuse. Abusers routinely tell victims that something in the victim’s behavior caused and/or justified the abuse. Those are excuses, not explanations, and they are invalid.
Victims often exaggerate the level of abuse. If it’s really that bad, they would leave.
Most victims downplay the situation because of fear, self-blame, or shame. It’s a very complex situation. Many victims do attempt to leave the relationship, only to run into barriers such as being stalked by their abusers, lack of police protection, not having the financial means to stay independent of their abusers, and many more that make leaving and staying away seemingly impossible.
They seem too kind/normal. It must have been a one-time, isolated incident.
As abusing someone is a conscious choice, abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. For example, when the police show up. Do not assume that the abuse is not happening just because the abuse does not look obvious to you.
Do any of the above facts about domestic violence apply to your circumstances? Ask an attorney or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to see what can be done. If you have any confusion or questions about how the law can address your domestic violence concerns, speak to a family attorney located near you.