Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence

People who have not been in an abusive relationship do not always understand what domestic violence is. It is a complex issue. Below are common myths:

Myth #1: Domestic violence is rare.

FACT: According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. This means an estimated 1.3 million or more women a year are victims. Each day in America there is an average of three women murdered as a result of domestic violence.

Myth #2: All domestic violence is physical.

FACT: Domestic  Violence  is  a  pattern  of  coercion  and  control  that  one  person  exerts  over  another. Physical  violence  is  just  one  form  of  abuse  utilized  by  batterers  to  maintain  power  and  control  over  their  spouse  and/or  partner.  Not all domestic violence is physical. Emotional, sexual and economical abuse is domestic violence and can be very damaging to the victim’s psychological health. It  includes  the  repeated  use  of  a  number  of  tactics,  including  intimidation,  threats, insults,  economic  deprivation,  isolation, jealousy, and sexual peer pressure. This abuse can lead to low self-esteem, depression, hostility, seclusion, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.  

Myth #3: Domestic violence is provoked by the victims.

FACT: Domestic violence victims never deserve the abuse. Domestic violence is a crime and should never be justified. People are abused for reasons as ridiculous as dinner is cold, the laundry isn’t done, the children are being loud, or the TV was turned to the wrong channel. Abusive people refuse to control their violent impulses. Even where the person may have reason to be angry, they have no right to express their anger violently. Batterers need to take personal responsibility for their actions.

Myth #4: Domestic violence can be caused by drugs and alcohol.

FACT: Drugs and alcohol is not an excuse for violent behavior. The U.S. Department of Justice found that 61% of domestic violence offenders also have substance abuse problems. Both alcohol and drugs can increase the stress in any relationship and in abusive ones this can in turn increase the risk of violence. Although there is a correlation and it can increase this abusive behavior, drugs and alcohol is not the cause of domestic violence.

Myth #5: Victims put themselves in this abusive relationship and can leave easily.

FACT: There are many complicated reasons why it’s difficult for a person to leave an abusive partner. They may be financially dependent or have limited job skills or religious, cultural or family pressures may keep them in the relationship/marriage. One of the most common reasons for a person not to leave an abusive relationship is fear. They may have tried to leave before and were stopped; their abuser may have threatened to take the children from them, or harm them even more if they leave. Women who leave their abusers could be at a greater risk of being killed by the abuser than those who stay. For those planning to leave a violent relationship help is available. Call 911 and/or the Hubbard House 24‐hour hotline at (904) 354‐3114 or (800) 500‐1119.

Myth #6:  Domestic violence occurs only in poor, uneducated and minority families.   

FACT:  Domestic  violence  does  not  discriminate  against  age,  gender, economic  level  or  zip  code.  Studies  of  domestic  violence  consistently  have  found  that  battering  occurs  among  all  types  of  families,  regardless  of  income,  profession,  region,  ethnicity,  educational  level  or  race.  However,  the  reason  lower  income  victims  and  abusers  are  over‐represented  in  calls  to  police,  domestic  violence  shelters  and  social  services  may  be  due  to  a  lack  of  other  resources.

Myth #7:  Children are not affected when one parent abuses the other.

FACT:  Studies  show  that  in  30‐60%  of  cases  in  which  a  parent  abuses  another  parent,  the  children  are  also  physically  abused.  Children  also  suffer  emotional,  cognitive,  behavioral,  and  developmental  impairments  as  a  result  of  witnessing  domestic  violence  in  the  home.  In  addition,  children  who  experience  domestic  violence  in  their  homes  often  grow  up  to  repeat  the  same  behavioral  patterns.

Myth #8:  Batterers are mentally ill.  

FACT: Battering is a learned behavior, not a mental illness. Abusers’ experiences  as  children  and  the  messages  they  get  from  society  in  general  tell  them  that  violence  is  an  effective way  to  achieve  power  and  control  over  their  partners. Batterers should always be held accountable for their actions. There  are  programs  available  to  help  teach  batterers  how  they  can  break  the  cycle  of  abuse.  Call  the  Hubbard  House  First  Step  Batterers’  Intervention  Program  at  (904)  354‐0076  ext. 283 for more information.

Myth #9: Men are never victims of domestic violence.

FACT: Although women are at a greater risk, men still can be affected. According to statistics it is estimated that one out of every 14 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Myth #10: Domestic violence is not a problem in my community.

FACT: Last year in Duval County, there were 7,798 domestic violence incidents reported. Unfortunately, the majority of domestic violence cases go unreported.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help. 

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE

Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit http://www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

By Lana Schack

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