Domestic Abuse Myths
Myth: Domestic abuse does not happen to men.
Reality: Domestic abuse can happen to anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Myth: Men who experience abuse are weak or not ‘real’ men. A ‘real’ man should be stoical, self-sufficient and able to cope in all situations.
Reality: This myth equates being a male victim of domestic abuse with being less than a man, however, not striking back a woman who is assaulting you takes a good deal of restraint and fortitude
Myth: In a domestic abuse situation, the bigger, stronger person in the relationship is the abuser and the smaller, weaker person in the relationship is the victim.
Reality: This myth focuses only on the physical aspects of domestic abuse. An abusive partner does not need to be bigger or stronger to use intimidation and threats, rip a phone off the wall to prevent their victim from calling for help or to use a weapon against their victim.
Myth: The law only protects women who experience domestic abuse but does nothing to help men.
Reality: Men and women have the same rights to protection from domestic abuse.
Myth: Alcohol and drugs make men more violent.
Reality: Alcohol and drugs can make existing abuse worse, or be a catalyst for an attack, but they do not cause domestic abuse. Many people use alcohol or drugs and do not abuse their partner, so it should never be used to excuse violent or controlling behaviour. The perpetrator alone is responsible for his actions.
Myth: If it was that bad, they’d leave.
Reality: People stay in abusive relationships for many different reasons, and it can be very difficult for them to leave an abusive partner – even if they want to. Like any other relationship, one that ends in abuse began with falling in love and being in love. Abuse rarely starts at the beginning of a relationship, but when it is established and often harder to leave. They may still be in love with their partner and believe them when they say they are sorry and it won’t happen again; they may be frightened for their life or for the safety of their children if they leave; they may have nowhere to go; they may have no financial independence. Abusers often isolate their partners from family and friends in order to control them, making it even more difficult for an abused person to exit the relationship.
Myth: Domestic abuse always involves physical violence.
Reality: Domestic abuse does not always include physical violence. The definition of domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, by a partner or ex-partner. These incidents can include coercive control; psychological and/or emotional abuse; physical abuse; sexual abuse; financial abuse; harassment; stalking; and/or online or digital abuse.
Myth: He can be a good father even if he abuses his partner – the parents’ relationship doesn’t have to affect the children.
Reality: An estimated 90% of children whose mothers are abused witness the abuse. The effects are traumatic and long-lasting. When a child witnesses domestic abuse, this is child abuse. Between 40% and 70% of these children are also direct victims of the abuse which is happening at home.
Myth: She provoked him.
Reality: This myth is widespread and deep-rooted. It is often based on the belief that the man is the head of the family, and that his role is to punish his partner or children if they act in a way he doesn’t approve of. The myth is dangerous because any reference to ‘provocation’ means that we are blaming the woman and relieving the abuser of responsibility for his actions. Abuse or violence of any kind is never the victim’s fault. Responsibility always lies with the perpetrator, and with them alone.
Myth: Domestic abuse is a private family matter, and not a social issue.
Reality: Violence and abuse against people incurs high costs for society: hospital treatment, medication, court proceedings, lawyers’ fees, and imprisonment – not to mention the psychological and physical impact on those who experience it. All too often, when people disclose their abuse, no one listens to them, and no one asks them what they would like to happen next. Domestic abuse happens every single day all over the world, and affects people of all ages, classes and backgrounds. It is a serious, widespread crime.
Myth: Domestic abuse isn’t that common.
Reality: On average two women are murdered each week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. Domestic abuse has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime, and on average, the police receive over 100 emergency calls relating to domestic abuse every hour.
Myth: Domestic abuse is a ‘crime of passion’, a momentary loss of control.
Reality: Domestic abuse is rarely about losing control, but taking control. Abusive men rarely act spontaneously when angry. They consciously choose when to abuse their partner: when they are alone, and when there are no witnesses (if there is a witness, then usually they are a child). He has control over whom he abuses. To find out more about the characteristics of domestic abuse, click here.
Myth: All couples argue – it’s not domestic abuse, it’s just a normal relationship.
Reality: Abuse and disagreement are not the same things. Different opinions are normal and completely acceptable in healthy relationships. Abuse is not a disagreement – it is the use of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological violence or threats in order to govern and control another person’s thinking, opinions, emotions and behaviour. When abuse is involved, there is no discussion between equals. There is fear of saying or doing the ‘wrong’ thing.
Myth: Women are more likely to be attacked by strangers than by those who claim to love them.
Reality: In fact, the opposite is true. Women are far more likely to be assaulted, raped and murdered by men known to them than by strangers. According to Rape Crisis, only around 10% of rapes are committed by men unknown to the victim. Women are far likelier to be attacked by a man they know and trust.