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Dispelling Domestic Abuse Myths

Dispelling the Myths

Do drugs, mental health issues, stress and/or alcohol make my partner abusive?

No. Abuse is a choice. Although alcohol, drugs and other substance misuse can exacerbate domestic abuse, they do not cause domestic abuse. The perpetrator, and the perpetrator alone, is responsible for the abuse.

If the abuse was that bad, why didn’t they leave?

There are many overlapping reasons why women may stay, including fear. Leaving is difficult and takes time. It is a process. Those experiencing abusive relationships need support and understanding, not judgement.

My partner didn’t hit me, so he/she is not abusive?

Domestic abuse does not always include physical abuse. Rather, it can involve psychological abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, coercive control, stalking and harassment or technological abuse.

My partner has anger management issues and therefore is not abusive.

Anger is a feeling, abuse is a choice. Abuse is predicated on belief-systems.

He was provoked.

Responsibility always lies with the perpetrator. By appealing to ‘provocation’, we are perpetuating the widespread myth that there are particular abusive behaviours that can be excused and that are brought on by the victim. This is victim-blaming.

Women can be abusive, too.

Domestic abuse can be perpetrated by anyone. However, domestic abuse, and all strands of violence against women and girls, disproportionately affects women and is disproportionately perpetrated by men. It is a gendered crime, the driving force of which is rooted in the societal inequality between women and men. For example, in the year ending March 2019, the ONS found that 92% of defendants in domestic abuse-related prosecutions were men, and 75% of victims were female. The ONS also estimates that 1/3 women aged 16-59 in England and Wales will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime (ONS, 2019).

Domestic abuse only happens to specific women.

Domestic abuse can happen to any women regardless of where they live, their profession, or social background.

Domestic abuse should remain a private issue.

Domestic abuse is a crime. It is not an individual but a social problem. We all need to speak out against it.

Women find abusive men attractive.

This is victim-blaming. A perpetrator can be charming and charismatic, and there are various overlapping reasons as to why women experience domestic abuse.

All couples argue and this doesn’t mean it is domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse and disagreement are qualitatively different. A difference in opinion is common and acceptable, whereas domestic abuse involves ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse… This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional’.

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