Myths and Facts

Here are some myths and facts about domestic abuse

Myth: It takes two to tango – it is common for intimate partner violence and abuse to be mutual, i.e. perpetrated by both partners.

Fact: It is common for both partners to use violence within an intimate relationship, however, it is nearly always one partner using violence within a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour, while the other partner’s violence is used to resist being abused and controlled.

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: People who perpetrate domestic violence are monsters.

Fact: People who perpetrate domestic violence come from all walks of life and you can’t tell by looking at 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 supported.

Myth:Domestic abuse is rare in same sex relationships.

When it does happen, the physically larger one is always the abuser

Fact: Gay, lesbian or bisexual adults are more than twice as likely than the NZ average to experience intimate partner violence and sexual violence. The person using coercive and controlling behaviour may be the larger or the smaller partner.

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

Fact: People often use drinking and drugs as one of 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. 

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.