MYTH: Domestic abuse is a “family matter” and the community should not interfere in family matters.
REALITY: Domestic abuse is against the law, and that makes it everyone’s business. Assaults within the family are as much of a crime as assaults outside the family. Not getting involved won’t make domestic violence disappear; it will only ensure that more adults and children suffer alone.
MYTH: Domestic violence is a loss of control.
REALITY: Violent behavior is a choice. Perpetrators use it to control their victims. Domestic violence reflects batterers using their control, not losing their control; their actions are very deliberate.
MYTH: The victim is responsible for the violence because s/he provokes it.
REALITY: No one asks to be abused, and no one deserves to be abused regardless of what they say or do.
MYTH: Abusers are violent in all their relationships.
REALITY: Many abusive people are abusive only toward an intimate partner. Some abusers are very successful in their professions and are charming to other people. Presenting a good image for friends, employers, family, and neighbors can give the abuser more power and control because people would be less likely to believe the abuser to be capable of abusive behavior.
MYTH: Alcohol/drugs cause domestic abuse.
REALITY: Although alcohol and drugs are often associated with domestic abuse, they do not cause the violence. If alcohol and drug usage caused violence, then everyone who consumed alcohol or drugs would become violent. Not all abusers drink, and not all people who drink are abusers. The abuser typically controls his actions, even when drunk or high, by choosing a time and place for the assaults to take place in private and go undetected. Violence often continues after an abuser stops drinking. However, intoxication may increase the severity of the abuse. Abusers often use their intoxication as an excuse for violent behavior, leading the victim to believe it is the cause. In reality, domestic abuse and substance abuse must be understood and treated as two independent problems.
MYTH: Domestic abuse is caused by mental illness.
REALITY: Personality disorders, mental illness, poor impulse control, and generational abuse do not cause domestic abuse. Even in cases where a particular mental illness may cause a person to be abusive, the abuse is not specifically targeted at one person but to everyone around during the episode. However, if an abuser also has a mental illness, they may be more dangerous. For example, an abuser who is severely depressed may stop caring about the consequences of their actions, making them more of a threat to their partner.
MYTH: Only low-income families and minorities experience domestic abuse.
REALITY: Domestic abuse occurs in all socio-economical levels. It cuts across all races, economic, ethnic, cultural, and religious groups.
MYTH: S/he could just leave.
REALITY: This is a way of subtly blaming the victim for the abuse. Instead, we should instead say, “s/he should just stop abusing him/her.” No one asks to be abused and no one enjoys being abused. There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, none of which are because they like it. There are many practical, social, and emotional factors that can make leaving extremely difficult. Some of these include, but are not limited to, the following: fear of further violence, lack of knowledge regarding available options/resources, economic dependence, staying because of the children, love, social isolation, emotional dependence, lack of confidence, and cultural reasons.