MYTH: Domestic violence does not affect many Americans.
FACT: A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States. Additionally, 63% of young men between the ages of 11 and 20 serving time for homicide are in prison for killing their mother's abuser.
MYTH: Battering is only a momentary loss of temper.
FACT: Battering is the use of violence and other forms of abuse to establish control and power in a relationship. One in five female victims reports having been battered over and over again by the same person.
MYTH: Stress causes battering.
FACT: Obviously some batterers experience stress, but stress does not cause abuse. Many men under severe stress do not batter. Even if the practitioner helps the batterer reduce his stress, the violence will continue or eventually resume because the batterer still feels entitled to assault his partner.
MYTH: Drugs and alcohol cause the violence.
FACT: Addictions are used as excuses to free the batterer from responsibility for the behavior. This theory does not explain why the batterer uses violence, why he targets a woman for abuse, nor why he batters when sober. The addictive batterer must be treated for two separate problems--his addiction and his violence. He will not necessarily stop battering if he gains control over his addiction.
MYTH: Battered women provoke the violence.
FACT: Any woman can find herself battered. The victim is not at fault but rather the batterer, the partner who has committed a crime. No one can be responsible for another person's deliberate choices and actions. Domestic violence victims, however, frequently hear comments from their abusers like, "I did it for your own good," or from outsiders, "you must have really made him mad." These statements can confuse a woman and lead her to take responsibility for the violence or blame herself. No matter what, domestic violence is not the victim's fault.
MYTH: Only women are victims of domestic violence.
FACT: Approximately 95% of those battered are women; however, in a small number of cases, women are the batterers and their male partners, the victims.
MYTH: The problem is couples assaulting each other.
FACT: Again, nearly ninety-five percent of victims are women. Although some women are violent to their partners--often even in self-defense-- it is impossible to understand battering by counting up the number of times one person hits another.Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse in the attempt to increase power and control.
MYTH: Domestic violence occurs only in poor urban areas.
FACT: Women of all cultures, races, occupations, incomes, and ages are battered by husbands, lovers, boyfriends, and partners. One in four pregnant women has a history of partner abuse.
MYTH: Domestic violence is a push, a slap, or a punch and does not produce serious injuries.
FACT: Battered women are often severely injured and even murdered. Between 22% and 35% of women who visit emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse.
MYTH: It is easy for a battered woman to leave her abuser.
FACT: Women who leave their abuser are at 75% greater risk of being killed by the abuser than those who stay. Nationally, 50% of homeless women and children are on the street because of violence in their home.
MYTH: Domestic violence does not affect children.
FACT: Child abuse occurs in up to 70% of the homes where domestic violence occurs. When a parent is victimized by domestic violence, children are abused at a rate 15 times the national average.
MYTH: After a woman leaves an abusive partner, the abuse stops.
FACT: Separated women are three times more likely than divorced women, and 25 times more likely than married women living with their husbands, to be victimized by a batterer. Batterers frequently take advantage of court-ordered visitation to inflict harm on their former partners and their children.
MYTH: Batterers who seek custody do so out of love for their children and a desire to be good parents.
FACT: Custody litigation frequently becomes a vehicle whereby batterers attempt to extend or maintain their control and authority over the abused parent after separation. Fathers who battered the mother are twice as likely to seek sole physical custody for their children than are non-violent fathers.
MYTH: Allegations of child abuse increase significantly in divorce and custody disputes; women frequently fabricate allegations of abuse to hurt their former partner or to gain an advantage in custody disputes.
FACT: Allegations of child sexual abuse are rare, occurring in only 2-3% of all divorce cases and fewer than 10% of custody cases. Less than 1/2 of all allegations of abuse against fathers are made by the child's mother, most are made by third parties. Allegations of child sexual abuse are not more likely to be false when made during custody/divorce proceedings than when made at other times.
This material was reprinted with permission from the Kentucky Women Advocates.