There are a lot of myths about domestic violence. Unfortunately these myths can help to propagate stereotypes and can sometimes mean that it is harder for abused people to escape the cycle of violence.
Myth: Domestic violence only happens in poor families
Abuse can happen in any relationship, regardless of the level of wealth or the social standing of those involved. Abusers are as likely to come from “professional” career groups such as doctors, accountants and lawyers as they are to come from “manual” professions like mechanics, cleaners or builders.
Abuse can even happen to people who are in the public eye. Whilst some of these people act as though nothing is happening to them, many of these people eventually share their stories with the public to try to help others in the same position.
Myth: All abusers grew up in violent homes
Although some people who experienced violence during childhood will repeat the cycle of abuse, others will not. Some abusers try to use this as an excuse for their behaviour, however being violent is a choice.
Domestic violence is never a predetermined life path, and this myth can help to create abusers rather than stopping violence.
Myth: Alcohol and drugs are to blame
Although alcohol and drugs can exacerbate violence, they are not the root cause of abuse. Many people will assault their partners whilst they are completely sober, whilst many people who are under the influence of these substances would never even dream of committing a violent act. Whilst many abusers will try to blame the substance, it is not an acceptable excuse.
Myth: Stress or Mental Illnesses cause domestic violence.
Like drugs and alcohol, stress and mental illness may play a part in triggering some instances of domestic violence, but they are not an excuse or an underlying cause.
Stress affects hundreds of thousands of adults every year in the United Kingdom, but most of these adults are not perpetrators of domestic violence.
Myth: “If it was that bad, she would leave”
Abuse is about power and control. Abusers are able to manipulate their partner into believing that staying is a better option than leaving. The person who is being abused may believe that staying is better for their children, or that they will not be able to support themselves without their partner.
Many abusers ensure that their partner would be unable to support themselves financially without external support. Other people have had their self-esteem worn down gradually so that they believe that they deserve the abuse, or that no one else would ever want to be in a relationship with them. Many people simply hope that their relationship will return to happier times.
Myth: “She deserved what she got”
Violence is not acceptable in any circumstances within a relationship, even if things are not going as anticipated. Failing to live up to the expectations of a partner, does not give them the right to hurt you.
Many abusers place unrealistic demands on their partners, and then attack them when they fail to meet these demands. Cheating or suspected cheating is still not a reason for physical assault.
Myth: “Outsiders” should not get involved in domestic violence
Many cases of domestic violence are allowed to continue because other people do not think that they can get involved. They believe that what happens behind closed doors should stay behind closed doors. However, many people are unable to escape from an abusive relationship without the help and support of “outsiders”.
Doctors, teachers, social workers, neighbours, friends and family can all help to stop domestic abuse if they suspect it to be happening.