Myths & Facts
There are many misconceptions surrounding domestic and sexual violence. This misinformation can affect the services, healing, and treatment of survivors. It may also affect survivors self-image. For many reasons, it is important to understand the truth about violence.
MYTH: Domestic violence is rare.
FACT: Domestic violence affects 1 out of 4 women at some point during her lifetime. Men can also be victims of domestic violence, but women make up about 97% of domestic violence survivors. Domestic violence happens equally in heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
MYTH: Domestic violence is not a serious problem in the U.S.
FACT: Battering is the single largest cause of injury to women in the United States – over mugging, automobile accidents and rape, combined. (NCADV 2003).
MYTH: Victims of abuse are crazy if they choose to stay in an abusive relationship.
FACT: To those of us outside of the intimate relationship, some survivors may exhibit behaviors that may seem unusual or even bizarre. It is important to remember that as an outsider to the abusive relationship, we are not living with the daily threat and fear of abuse or death. What may appear to be bizarre behaviors are often survival strategies women use to keep themselves safe.
MYTH: Batterers are violent in all their relationships.
FACT: Most batterers do not use violence in other non-intimate relationships to resolve a conflict. “Batterer’s typically present a different personality outside the home than they do inside, which complicates a woman’s ability to describe her experiences to people outside the relationship.” (K.J. Wilson, Ed.D., When Violence Begins at Home, 1997.)
MYTH: When batterers are violent, it is because they “lost their temper,” and not because they meant to hurt their partner.
FACT: Batterers use violence because it helps them gain and maintain power and control, not because they lose control of their emotions.
MYTH: Drinking and/or drug abuse cause battering.
FACT: There seems to be a correlation between alcohol and battering. Although alcohol abuse may increase the likelihood of violent behavior, it does not cause or excuse it.
MYTH: Domestic violence only affects the adults in the household.
FACT: According to a recent American Bar Association report, experts estimate that between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. The report cites numerous links between serious emotional and psychological problems from exposure to domestic violence:
Depression, hopelessness, and other forms of emotional distress in teenagers are strongly associated with exposure to domestic violence.
Infants often fail to thrive.
Children may exhibit bed wetting, sleep disorders, violence towards other children, stuttering, and crying.
Children exposed to domestic violence have a tendency to identify with the aggressor and to lose respect for the victim; men who witness their fathers’ abuse their mothers are three times more likely to abuse their wives than men who have not witnessed abuse. A woman who witnesses her father abuse her mother has a much greater likelihood of becoming a battered woman herself. (“The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children,” American Bar Association 1995.)
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.*
On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.*
Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.*
1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime.*
Every minute, 20 individuals experience some form of domestic violence.
*Statistics from NCADV