Domestic violence or intimate partner violence is surrounded by myths and false information due to a variety of reasons.
The reality is that more than 12 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence per year.
The reality is that abuse happens to people from all types of families, all income levels, all ethnicities, all professions, all religions, and all education levels. It happens in towns, in suburbs, inner cities, neighborhoods, and rural areas. Abused victims with few financial or personal resources are more visible because they are more likely to seek help from public organizations. Victims from middle and upper economic groups are more likely to seek help from private organizations or individuals.
The reality is that although alcohol/drugs can cause violence to increase in severity, violent abusers will hit when they are under the influence or sober. Abusers will use alcohol/drugs as an excuse for violent behavior and as a way of avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Stopping an abuser’s substance abuse will not make the violence end. They are separate problems that often overlap.
Every relationship has arguments and stress. The reality is that most people find healthy ways to resolve their arguments and disagreements. Most victims will get abused for no reason, over little things, or even in their sleep. There is no excuse for abuse in a relationship.
The reality is that only the abuser has the ability to stop. Abusing is a choice that the abuser should be held responsible for. Many victims try to change their behavior in hopes that this will stop the violence. This does not work. Changes in the family’s behavior will not cause the abuser to become non-violent. The abuse is never the victim’s fault.
The reality is that you can have a bad relationship that doesn’t involve intimate partner violence. This idea minimizes the seriousness of the problem and causes the victim to “fix” the relationship to stop the abuse.
The reality is that is not easy to leave. Leaving an abusive partner is often the most dangerous time for the victim. There are many valid reasons a person stays with an abusive partner. Fear, lack of safe options, and the inability to survive economically prevent many victims from leaving abusive relationships. Threats of harm, including death to the victim and/or children, keep many victims trapped in abusive situations.
The reality is that anyone can be abusive. Women are just as capable of being the aggressor in an abusive relationship. Men are not less than for reporting intimate partner violence.
Intimate partner violence can happen in any relationship. However, there are unique abuses that happen in an LGBTQ+ relationship, such as non using their partner’s pronouns or outing them to their family when its not safe.
Life is full of stressful situations usually caused by money, work, and relationships.
Intimate Partner Violence is a chosen response to that stress. Abusers use it as a way to control a situation they feel is out of control. They use abuse in the same way someone may use drugs or alcohol to cope. None of these methods are healthy.
If abusers truly “lost control” there would be a lot more intimate partner violence related homicides. The fact is that many abusers control their violence, choosing to harm their victims in less visible places such as on the torso or under the hairline.
Some abusers even control how they use mental and emotional abuse, avoiding things that can be saved or tracked like texting.
This myth is very dangerous as it leads people to believe that the effects of intimate partner violence on victims is not as serious as other crimes, like robbery.
In fact, Intimate Partner Violence accounts for a significant proportion of all serious crimes – aggravated assault, rape, and homicide.
Intimate Partner Violence comes in many forms. Abuse does not have to be physical for it to be valid.
See our page on Intimate Partner Violence for more information on the types of abuse someone can experience in an IPV relationship.
The psychological impact of being raised in a household where intimate partner violence occurs can be intense. Many of these children develop cognitive and psychological problems after witnessing this abuse second-hand. They can get sleeping disorders, eating disorders, depression, aggressive behavior, destructive rages, stuttering, shaking, and declined problem solving skills.
Children who grow up in these types of households are three times more likely to be abusive themselves than children in a health household.
Even if there is no physical abuse, and children are in another room, they are still exposed to the the tension in the household and on some level feel something is wrong.
Many myths start out as innocent misunderstandings that balloon into great problems for survivors. Many myths revolve around victim blaming.
Victim blaming is when someone puts the blame for the abuse on the victim, not the abuser.