There are plenty of myths about most things. Some we find on the internet, some we learn from our friends and families. Often myths are harmless but other times, as in the case of domestic violence, they can be dangerous. Today we will explore some (I couldn't possibly expect to get to all) of the myths about domestic violence.
1. People don’t leave their abusive partners.
Actually, they do. The divorce rate is actually higher in couples who have physical abuse than the population at large. What outsiders often don’t understand is that it can take an average of 7-8 attempts to leave before being able to stay away. There are a ton of reasons for that. First, it is important to know that the vast majority of the time, a physically abused partner is also verbally/emotionally abused partner. They often believe that they have in some way caused the violence as that is what they have been told repeatedly. (It’s ok to remind people that no one deserves to be hit/kicked/threatened.) Also, there are often threats of increased violence if the partner does leave. And the evidence bares that out. The most dangerous time for a woman to leave a battering husband is when she leaves him. Finally, the abused partner has often become so isolated from friends and family they may not have any places to go.
2. Violence in the home is rare.
I guess that depends on your definition of rare…. Roughly 50% of married couples report that at some point in the marriage there has bee some pushing and shoving. It is estimated that about 1 in 4 couples escalate further and that only about 15% of domestic assaults are ever reported to authorities. While pushing and shoving may not escalate to the level of assault, it is important to create a home environment where you and your partner are not laying hands on each other in anger.
3. Counseling is the answer.
You may be surprised to learn that it is NOTthe answer when there is actual battering taking place in the home. First, if one partner is assaulting and dominating the other, the victim gets lumped in with the problem and the couple can get the confused message that the victim is at least at part to blame. And that is NOT THE CASE. There is no excuse for violence and we are all responsible for our actions. Second, if the partner who is being beaten speaks up in therapy, they have no reason to believe they will be safe when they get home. In fact, they are likely to be punished for speaking up.
4. You would know if someone you cared about was being abused.
Sadly, there are a lot of batterers who are very charming and charismatic and will never show the outside would who they really are at home. And there are many people living with a batterer who seem confident and strong and who seem like they would never tolerate that kind of treatment. People get really good at hiding abuse because they are ashamed. They are ashamed that they tolerate it, that their kids see/hear it, that the partner that they love treats them that way. An abused person may also hide it because they may know that their abusive partner could become more violent if they found out others knew about the abuse.
5. Abuse is provoked
All couples, even happy couples disagree and have conflict. No one deserves to be hit. If someone does not like the way they are being spoken to, they have every right to remove themselves from the situation or even end the relationship. There is no excuse for beating someone up.
6. Drugs and alcohol use cause domestic violence.
While drugs and alcohol may lower inhibitions, they absolutely do not cause nor can they excuse abuse. We hold people who choose to drink and drive responsible for their behavior, why would we not hold they responsible for assault? Particularly when they repeat the behavior over and over again.
No one deserves to be abused. If you or someone you know is being assaulted by a partner or family member you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233 or visit their website. Keep in mind that your online use can be monitored so consider using a different computer or phone to look up local resources.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to live your best life, call me and let’s get started!