Myths and Realities
1. Abuse only happens in certain “problem” families, ethnic minorities, and lower socio economic communities.
Abuse pervades every ethnic, social level. White collar workers are just as likely to abuse their spouses as blue-collar workers; financially independent people are just as likely to suffer abuse as people on low incomes. It is not the social standing, the amount of stress lived under or the company kept which makes an abuser, but the internal need for power, the belief that they have the right to control someone else.
2. Domestic abuse is a family matter.
Abusing, battering, assaulting or raping another person is a criminal offense. Domestic abuse has far-reaching social implications for everyone, affecting the abused person’s ability to lead a productive life and encouraging children brought up in an abusive home to repeat the cycle themselves and having a detrimental impact on their emotional and sometimes physical well-being.
A lot of doctors, hospital time and funds are needed to help those who have been victimized or beaten.
3. Some survivors ask for it, provoke it, want it or even deserve it.
NOBODY deserves to be beaten or abused. Survivors often have to walk on eggshells and try their best to avoid another incident. The abuser WANTS to abuse. This myth encourages the blame-shifting from the abuser to the abused and avoids the stark reality that only the abuser is responsible for their own actions.
4. Domestic abuse is caused by excessive alcohol or the use of drugs.
A lot of research is going into the link between drug or alcohol use and violence. However, although some abusers are more prone to being violent when drunk, many more abuse when completely sober. Alcohol and drugs may increase the violence, but they do not cause it. Alcohol and drug abuse are separate issues from domestic violence, though they may overlap. Once again, blaming chemical dependency for abuse is missing the point, the abuser is responsible for their actions.
5. Domestic abuse is a one-time incident.
Rarely is abuse a one-time incident. Most often it is part of an ongoing means of establishing and maintaining control over another person. Abuse tends to increase both in frequency and severity over a period of time.
6. It can’t be that bad, or they would leave.
There are many emotional, social, spiritual and financial hurdles to overcome before someone being abused can leave. Very often the constant undermining of the survivor’s self-belief and self-esteem can leave them with very little con dence, socially isolated, and without the normal decision-making abilities. Leaving or trying to leave will also often increase the violence or abuse, and can put both the survivor and the children in a position of fearing for their lives. Leaving is the ultimate threat to the abuser who has established power and control over their partner. The abuser will often do anything to keep the survivor by their side, rather than let them go.
7. Abusers are always rough, nasty, violent men and easily identified.
Abusers are often apparently charming, generous and well-presented people who can hold positions of social standing. Abuse is kept for those nearest to him or her, to the privacy of their own homes. It can also mean that when the person being abused finally does try to tell their friends, family or acquaintances of the abuse, they are not believed, because the person they are describing simply doesn’t t the image portrayed in public.
8. Lesbians, men and gay men don’t get battered or abused.
Sexual orientation doesn’t make any difference. Abuse is about control within a relationship and can occur within any relationship where one partner believes they have the right to control the other. Whether they are married or living together, of the same or opposite gender, have been together for a few weeks or many years doesn’t make much of a difference – abuse can and does occur.
9. Abusers or batterers just have a problem expressing anger. They need counseling or anger management courses to learn to resolve disputes without violence.
Most abusers have no problem resolving disputes with their boss or other outside person without resorting to violence. They choose to use violence and other forms of abuse against their partner as a means of maintaining their power over them.