Nichelle Mitchem Sheds Light on Commonly Held Domestic Violence Myths


There are many commonly held myths on the phenomenon of domestic violence. This blog post seeks to disabuse the reader of commonly held myths about domestic violence. These domestic violence myths include but are not limited to the following:

MYTH: Domestic violence is a private family matter between a husband and a wife. Here are the facts:
•Domestic violence is a crime against society.
•About 1 in 3 American women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. (Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: the Commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999)
•In 1996, 30% of all female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1997)
•40% to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children. (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family, 1996)

MYTH: Women and men engage in domestic violence at approximately the same rate. Here are the facts:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:
•84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
•Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers.
•50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse. (Matthew R. Durose et al., U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 207846, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, at 31-32 (2005))

Domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color.
•Domestic violence happens in all kinds of families and relationships. Persons of any socio-economic status, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.

MYTH: Some people deserve to be hit. Here are the facts:
•No one deserves to be abused. The only person responsible for the abusive behavior is the abuser.
•Physical violence is against the law.

MYTH: Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence. Here are the facts:
•Domestic violence is a learned behavior.
•Abusers choose to abuse his/her partner.
•Alcohol use, drug use, and stress do not cause domestic violence. The afore-referenced conditions might exist in a relationship where domestic violence is present, but they do not cause the violence. Abusers seek to find excuses for their violence.
•Domestic violence is rarely caused by mental illness, but it is often used as an excuse for domestic violence.

MYTH: If the relationship is abusive, she would just leave. Here are the facts:
•There are many reasons why women may not leave. Not leaving does not indicate that the relationship is healthy.
•Research has taught us that leaving can be very dangerous for victims of domestic violence. Actually, in some cases, the most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave.

Domestic violence is not a problem in my community.
•Research indicates that women worldwide experience domestic violence.

For information on domestic violence, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website
Source(s): Matthew R. Durose et al., U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 207846, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, at 31-32 (2005))

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