Domestic Violence Myths and Facts
Abused women are usually constrained from leaving home by a number of factors including:
Fear or reprisals
Threats of injury and actual violence to themselves or their children if they choose to separate prevent a great number of women from leaving violent relationships.
Abused women are often at home with dependent children. Their partners may deliberately isolate them from friends, family, and the wider community. Many survivors choose to hide at home because of their sense of shame of visible injuries, or their belief that the violence is their fault. As a result of their isolation, abused women often have no one to turn to and are unaware of available services.
Women generally do not have equal access to the same earning capacity as men. To leave their partner condemns many women and their children to a substantial decline in their standard of living.
Women often experience social pressure not to separate and deprive their children of a father.
Like women in non-violent relationships, abused women are generally committed to their relationship, love their partner, and hope for a change in the relationship. Some abused women are fearful that their partner will not cope with a separation and that he will attempt suicide as he has often threatened.
Many survivors, after years of beatings and verbal abuse, have lost their self-confidence and doubt their ability to cope on their own.
MYTH - Some women deserve to be abused. They provoke the abuse.
FACT - There are no excuses for FDV. Violence is rarely the culmination of a mutual argument and women often have no warning of an attack. Many women who are abused try to do everything to avoid violent episodes. In abusive relationships, it is often perceived that the man has the right to dominate and control his partner. Survivors of FDV are at risk of abuse from the offender regardless of their actions.
In the 19th century, British law stated that a man could discipline his wife by hitting her with any reasonable instrument provided that it was not thicker than his thumb. While such a law no longer exists, many social beliefs still condone the use of violence to control women and to keep them in their place.
MYTH - Alcohol abuse causes FDV.
FACT - There is no single or simple reason for FDV and no evidence that alcohol is a direct cause of violence. There is evidence to suggest that alcohol coexists with, and may be seen to precipitate, FDV.
An Australian 1994 Northern Territory Living with Alcohol Violence Survey found that 85 percent of the group surveyed said that alcohol is a major cause of FDV. However, 98 percent said being drunk is not an excuse for hitting a partner or a child. Alcohol was involved in domestic violence for three out of four callers to a domestic violence hotline.
MYTH - Survivors of FDV exaggerate the abuse.
FACT - Survivors rarely describe themselves as victims of FDV, and tend to underestimate rather than to exaggerate violence, even when violent episodes escalate in intensity and frequency.
Survivors are much more likely to omit, deny, minimize, and even excuse FDV rather than disclose or exaggerate it.
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