Domestic Violence Myths and Facts
Your beliefs may affect how you interpret a situation and how you form your opinion of what is best for the child. Be sure that you understand the following principles:
- Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) is a crime and victims should expect full protection from the justice system;
- FDV is unacceptable and is the responsibility of the perpetrator for whom the appropriate consequences must apply under law;
- All citizens have the right to live free from all forms of violence and the fear of violence;
- All situations should:
- consider the immediate and ongoing safety of victims and survivors;
- empower the survivors to make their own decisions;
- recognize and meet the language and cultural needs of survivors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds;
- acknowledge and support the rights of individuals to information and resources to change violent circumstances.
Myths within the community serve to reinforce widely accepted beliefs, which protect the offender and/or blame the survivor of FDV. The impact of these myths will affect how the survivor copes with the assault(s), the support received from family and friends, and the quality of service if assistance is chosen.
MYTH - Only a small percentage of women are subjected to FDV.
FACT - Because of the private nature of FDV and the shame and embarrassment that inhibits many victims from talking about the issue, it is impossible to tell exactly how many women are subjected to violence.
A number of studies ranging from women using hospital services to women in the church suggest that from one in three to one in five women are likely to experience violence in intimate relationships.
MYTH - FDV only happens within poor or working class families.
FACT - FDV occurs across all socioeconomic groups. This myth developed because people on low incomes are more likely to come to the attention of official agencies. Those families with access to more resources are sometimes better able to hide the violence.
MYTH - The offender is not a loving partner.
FACT - Researchers have become aware of a cycle of violence in abusive relationships. During the "buy back" and "honeymoon phases" of this cycle, the offender can be a loving and attentive partner. Many violent men are described by their partners as Jekyll and Hyde characters, capable of being charming and caring but also capable of violence and abuse.
MYTH - Violent men cannot control their violence.
FACT - Violent men often believe that this is true. It is the belief in this myth which enables offenders to continue to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior. The large majority of offenders who beat their partners control their violence with others, such as friends or work colleagues, where there is no perceived right to dominate and control.
Offenders are also able to control the way in which they abuse, including limiting physical assault to certain, often hidden, parts of the body and by limiting the amount of damage inflicted. Violence is also frequently premeditated although it may seem to the survivor to happen out of the blue.
MYTH - Violent men are mentally ill or have psychopathic personalities.
FACT - Clinical studies of men who abuse their partners do not support this view. The vast majority of violent men are not suffering mental illness and could not be described as psychopaths. Most offenders present as ordinary, respectable men who are very much in control. They are represented in all occupations and social classes, and the violence usually manifests itself only within their relationships with their female partner and children.
MYTH - Women enjoy being abused.
FACT - This myth developed from the observation that many women remain in violent relationships despite constant abuse. There are many reasons why abused women stay with their violent partners. Many women are too afraid to leave violent relationships. Research confirms that leaving a relationship is a dangerous time for a woman, and that from half to five out of seven women killed by their spouse were separated or in the process of separating at the time of their death.
MYTH - A woman could always leave if she really wanted to.
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FACT - Approximately one-third of the women who responded to a NT Domestic Violence Phone-In in 1983 stated that they stayed in a violent relationship because they were afraid of what their already violent partner might do if they were to leave.