Domestic violence is a major topic of conversation across the United States. With nearly 20 people physically abused by a partner per minute the U.S., domestic violence represents a significant issue. Educating yourself about domestic violence can help you avoid, prevent, and get out of an abusive relationship. It can also give you the information you need to help others.
Learn the difference between fact and myth when it comes to domestic violence.
Myth: Only Women Are Victims of Domestic Abuse
Fact: Both men and women can become domestic abuse victims. In fact, one in four men have been victims of physical violence in an intimate partnership within their lifetimes. One in 18 men have reported an intimate partner stalking them to the point of creating fear or the belief that the perpetrator would cause harm. While women are more commonly the victims (at least, according to reported cases), male victims also deserve recognition for abuse. Breaking down the stigma against male domestic violence victims can encourage more men to come forward and report abuse.
Myth: Domestic Violence Only Happens in Bad Relationships
Fact: Domestic violence is not the result of a bad relationship or lack of communication. It is the result of one spouse being unable to stop or control his/her violent tendencies. A couple with a great relationship could still experience domestic violence. Believing that communication or the strength of a relationship determines domestic violence downplays the seriousness of the issue and makes victims feel that if they work harder at the relationship, the abuse would end. These myths can give victims false hope and allow perpetrators to avoid their own responsibility.
Myth: Domestic Violence is Only Physical
Fact: Domestic violence can be physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial. Any form of abuse by an intimate partner constitutes domestic violence. Your spouse does not need to inflict physical injury for you to feel justified in calling the police or otherwise reporting the spouse to the authorities. Domestic violence and abuse comes in many forms, with one no more serious than the rest. All forms of abuse can result in long-lasting negative effects, and each deserves legal attention.
Myth: I Can Take Back a Domestic Violence Allegation
Fact: Once the police get involved, it’s not up to you whether your spouse receives criminal charges for domestic violence. Many people involve the police during a domestic dispute or verbal argument as a scare tactic or in the heat of the moment. They mistakenly believe they have the power to stop the police investigation or charges. Once the police arrive, the case is not in the caller’s hands. The police will decide whether to pursue criminal charges against one or both spouses.
Myth: Domestic Violence Victims Can Just Walk Away
Fact: There are dozens of reasons a victim might not be able to leave his or her abuser. A victim may not have anywhere else to go or any means of seeking help without the abuser finding out and retaliating. The victim might not have money, support, shelter, or appropriate childcare outside of the abusive relationship. In some cases, a victim might fear retaliation against loved ones, children, or pets. Sometimes, it’s safer for a victim to stay with the abuser for the time being and create a plan to escape in the future.
Myth: The Victim Did Something to Provoke the Batterer
Fact: The victim’s actions or behaviors do not matter. It is never acceptable to abuse someone, regardless of what he or she did or said. Domestic violence is never the victim’s fault. There is never something the victim could have done differently to prevent the abuse. Blaming the survivor is a way to manipulate the victim and stay in control. Victims should not blame themselves or make excuses for an abusive partner.