Domestic Violence: Myths and Realities

Myth: The issue of domestic violence or intimate relationship abuse affects only a small part of the population. Reality: Studies estimate that 3 to 4 million women are beaten each year in our country. 31% of women admit to having been physically assaulted by a husband or boyfriend. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country, and the FBI estimates that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Thirty percent of female murder 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 only happens to poor, uneducated and minority women. Reality: Abuse happens to women from all types of families, all income levels, all ethnicities, all professions, all religions, and all education levels. It happens in towns, suburbs, inner cities, neighborhoods and rural areas. Abused women with few financial or personal resources are more visible because they are more likely to seek help from public organizations. Women from middle and upper economic groups are more likely to seek help from private organizations or individuals.

Myth: Alcohol causes the abuse. Reality: Although alcohol can cause violence to increase in severity, violent men will hit when they are drunk or sober. Abusers will use alcohol as an excuse for violent behavior and as a way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Stopping an abusers drinking will not make the violence stop. They are separate problems that often overlap.

Myth: Battered women deserve to get hit, and men have the right to discipline their partners. Reality: Every relationship has arguments and stress, but most men do not hit people when they get angry. Most victims are beaten for no reason, over little things or even in their sleep. While our society comes from a patriarchal system that used to give men the legal right to beat their wives and children, our society no longer supports this idea. Women and children are not the property of men, and domestic violence is a crime in every state.

Myth: When there is violence in the home, all members of the family are participating and therefore all of them have to change for the violence to stop. Reality: Only the abuser has the ability to stop the violence. Battering is a choice that the abuser must be held responsible for. Many abused women try to change their behavior in the hope that this will stop the violence. This does not work. Changes in family members’ behavior will not cause the abuser to be non-violent.

The abuse is not the victim’s fault!

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