Myths and Facts

Here are some myths and facts about domestic abuse:

Myth: It takes two to tango - abuse in relationships is usually caused by both people.  

Fact: Violence and abuse within an intimate relationship are nearly always used by one partner to control and dominate the other. Many victims try to defend themselves or fight back, but are not trying to control the other person. Victims often change their behaviour, hoping to stop the abuse, but this rarely works.

Myth: Victims exaggerate the level of abuse. If it really was that bad, they would leave.

Fact: Most victims downplay the abuse because of fear, self-blame and/or shame. Victims considering leaving their abusers face continued threats, harassment, injury and death. In order to escape the danger, victims are often forced to leave behind home, friends, family, money, pets, belongings, keepsakes, and much more.

Myth: Domestic abuse perpetrators are monsters.

Fact: Not all abusers look or act like ‘Jake the Muss’. They come from all walks of life and you can’t tell by looking at or meeting someone whether they abuse their partner. Many men (and women) who abuse their partners can also be loving, sensitive and playful. Victims may continue to love their partner and just want the violence to stop. People can change when they are motivated and provided with effective professional help.

Victims know their partner as a whole person – good and bad. Judging the behaviour and not the person helps engage people using violence to believe they can change. It also helps victims to stay focused on the impact of that person’s unacceptable behaviour – rather than feeling they need to defend someone they love(d) and may have mixed feelings about.

Myth: Domestic abuse is a heterosexual thing and is rare in lesbian and gay relationships. When this does happen, the physically larger one is always the abuser and the patterns of abuse are the same. 

Fact: There is the same incidence of domestic abuse in lesbian and gay relationships as in heterosexual relationships. The abuser may be the larger or the smaller partner, and there can be different tactics of control used, e.g. one partner may threaten to out the other partner to their family or employer.

Myth: Drinking, stress and poor impulse control cause domestic abuse.

Fact: Abusers may use drinking/drug abuse as one of the many excuses for violence. It is a way of putting responsibility for their behaviour elsewhere. Stopping the drinking/drug use will not usually end the abuse. Most people under stress do not abuse others. Perpetrators who are stressed at work rarely assault their co-workers or bosses because of the consequences their actions might bring. Victims are usually abused in private, and, when beaten, are often hit on parts of their bodies where bruises will not show.  Read more about the relationship between alcohol and drugs and domestic abuse in the following section.

Myth: Children need fathers.

Fact: Children need safety, security and loving caregivers above all else. Children who grow up with a father who abuses their mother are emotionally scarred and often repeat similar patterns in their own families as adults. This is true even when their father is always loving and gentle with them. A man cannot be a good father when he is violent or abusive to his children’s mother. Of course children are better off with fathers than without, but only if their father consistently provides them with love and security.

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