Myth 1. It couldn’t happen to me.
Intimate partner violence occurs in all parts of society. No one chooses to date an abuser. Abusers hide their true colors until AFTER it becomes difficult to leave the relationship.
Myth 2. Victims are partly to blame.
A partner has no control over the actions of the abuser and it is NEVER their fault. Abusers often make unrealistic demands and expect the impossible. Victims become exhausted trying to please them to keep the peace. Abusers use violence, emotional and verbal abuse, threats, children, finances and other tactics to maintain power and control in the relationship. They blame the victim to justify and continue their own abusive behavior.
Myth 3. It’s easy to leave.
Many DO leave, but it is NOT easy. Abuse often starts after the relationship is hard to leave, and abusers use manipulative tactics like apologizing, promising to change, or blaming the victim to keep them around. Most victims are afraid to leave and many don’t have the financial resources to leave or a place to go. The victim also knows that the level of danger increases when they are about to leave. They may also feel they have limited options if they are isolated from family and friends or if they do not control the finances.
It’s never easy for a victim of domestic violence to leave. Unlike a healthy relationship where a break up is still often difficult, in a dangerous relationship people don’t break up. They escape.
For a riveting first-hand account, see this TedTalk by Leslie Morgan Steiner.
Myth 4. S/he just loses control sometimes.
People don’t abuse because they are out of control. Domestic violence is a choice and abusers are rarely violent outside of the relationship. They are very careful about where and when they choose to abuse in order to hide their actions. If the police are called, it is often the victim who is hysterical while the abuser is calm. Violence is a calculated tactic that abusers use to maintain power and control. And while drugs and alcohol may cause abusers to be more violent, these substances do not cause abusive behavior.
Myth 5. There is nothing I can do.
There are three things anyone can do to help survivors of domestic violence.
- First, you can believe the survivor’s experience and honor them. When people dismiss or blame them, survivors are re-victimized.
- Second, we must hold batterers accountable. We must not make excuses for unacceptable behavior or be afraid to get involved in “private matters.”
- Third, we can donate or volunteer with an organization like Willow Center to help eradicate domestic violence.