Myths and Realities about Partner Abuse

Adapted from information provided by Sexual Assault Support Services; Eaves and Eaves, 1993; US Department of Justice

Myth: Partner violence isn't a big problem
Reality:
Half of all women experience some form of partner violence in their lifetime.  Partner violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States - more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Relationship violence is a huge problem that stems from dynamics of power and control that are accepted in society and transferred into relationships.  It is the most common and least reported violent crime in America today.

Myth: Relationship Violence is usually a one-time incident where one partner lost momentary control
Reality:
Relationship violence is a behavioral pattern that develops over time.  Once abuse begins, it tends to continue and worsen over time.

Myth: Alcoholism and stress cause relationship violence
Reality:
Abuse is about power and control.  Alcohol use may increase the level of physical danger and stress and may trigger abusive incidents, but abusive patterns of power and control are the core of domestic violence.

Myth: Anger causes relationship violence
Reality:
Abusers use anger as an excuse for their behavior.  We all get angry, but most of us don't become abusive when we're angry.  Abusers are generally in total control of their actions and anger management courses tend to turn out better batterers.  The better batterers become at controlling their anger, the more control they have over abusive episodes and their partners.

Myth: People  who nag or provoke their partners get what they deserve
Reality:
NO ONE deserves to be beaten.  Violence is not an acceptable solution to any problem.  Everyone is entitled to a life free from violence and fear of abuse.

Myth: When batterers get extremely angry, jealous, or drunk, they lose control of themselves and beat their partners
Reality:
Battering is about taking control, not losing it.  Batterers control their partners and children by abusing them.

Myth: Partner  violence doesn't happen in same-sex relationships
Reality:
A person in any kind of relationship can take power and control and use that to abuse his/her partner.  Studies show that abuse happens at about the same rate in LGBTQ relationships as it does in heterosexual relationships.

Myth: Men can't be abused
Reality:
Men can be abused by their partners, whether those partners are male or female.  Although 95-98% of victims of partner violence are women, and 95% of batterers are men, some men are victims and some women are abusers.  Relationship violence is just as damaging to male victims as it is to female victims and should be taken seriously when it happens to people of any sex or gender.

Myth: Relationship violence only occurs in poor neighborhoods
Reality:
People of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners.  Approximately one-third of the men counseled for battering are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives.

Myth: It is easy to leave an abusive relationship
Reality:
There are many factors that make leaving an abusive relationship extremely difficult.  Abusers often isolate their victims, which means victims of abuse rely on their abusers for love and financial resources.  Many victims of abuse also fear leaving because they think their abusers will carry out threats made in the relationship.  They fear this for good reason because the vast majority of serious injury and homicide by intimates occurs when the victim is leaving and the abuser has nothing more to lose.  In addition, not enough resources exist to help victims of abuse leave their relationships.  50% of homeless women and children are fleeing abusive relationships