There are many dangerous myths about domestic abuse that seep like a poisonous gas throughout society.
This section is aimed at identifying and removing the myths; it is only as we do this that we can change the reality of abuse for so many women and children.
Would rather watch a film clip than read? No problem watch our myth busters clip here
It happens to ‘those women’
Myth: Domestic abuse happens to a certain ‘type’ of woman, this type may be based on: socio economic status; a level of inner strength or confidence; religious or cultural background etc.
Truth: Domestic abuse can affect any woman regardless of her race, colour, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or level of confidence and inner strength. The only common denominator within a domestic abuse situation is an abusive man.
It happens because of…
Myth: Domestic abuse happens because of some or all of the following:
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Mental or physical health problems
- A lack of submission by the woman
- Historically having lived through abuse as a child
Truth: Domestic abuse happens because an abusive person chooses to behave in a way that will enable them to have power and control over another person. All other reasons that are given to cause domestic abuse are excuses and are used to justify abusive behaviour.
A woman can cause a man to become abusive
Myth: Women wind men up by behaving in ways which cause the man to become abuse. Men will tell their partner that she “made” him do it and many victims have been asked, “What did you do to let things get this bad?”
Truth: A woman is never responsible for her partner's behaviour. He is choosing to behave in an abusive and controlling way.
Why doesn’t she just leave?
Myth: Women who are in abusive relationships are choosing to stay there and if they are not happy they should just leave.
Truth: Not only does this question minimise the horrific reality of abuse, it puts the responsibility of the abuse onto the woman. The correct question should be, "Why doesn't he stop?"
An abusive man will ensure his victim thinks she cannot cope alone, will undermine and put her down until she believes she can’t cope alone. It can appear financially impossible to leave the situation and statistically the time a woman is at most risk of being murdered is when she is trying to leave an abusive relationship, therefore leaving is a very dangerous choice and should be done, wherever possible, with support from trained professionals.
Leaving is a choice
Myth: When a woman is in an abusive relationship, she has the choice to leave.
Truth: This is often not the case. As has already been mentioned, leaving will put her in immense danger. A perpetrator may threaten to harm the woman, her children or himself should she make any attempts to leave. Also when in an abusive relationship, a woman may believe that leaving is outside of the realms of possibility, this means that for her leaving is NOT a choice.
Abusive men are not bad fathers
Myth: Just because he has abused the mother doesn't make him a bad father.
Truth: By being abusive to the mother of the children, he is being a bad father. A good father respects and values the mother of the children, whether they are his biological children or not.
Domestic abuse is about anger
Myth: Perpetrators of domestic abuse are struggling with anger management issues. They are violent because they get angry.
Truth: Domestic abuse is a choice to behave in a controlling way; it is not about being angry. Abusive tactics are employed by perpetrators regardless of whether they feel anger or not. Professionals who work with perpetrators of domestic violence advise that anger management is a dangerous and unsuitable treatment for perpetrators of domestic violence.
Disclosures of abuse are usually “over dramatic”
Myth: When someone discloses abuse they are probably being hysterical and overly dramatic in order to gain attention
Truth: Any disclosure of abuse is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Most women living in threatening and controlling situations are reluctant to admit what is happening to them for many reasons. These include the shame of being abused; the fear of what their abusive partner will do if they tell anyone; their partner will have minimised and justified his behaviour to her, which will often cause her to believe it wasn’t ‘that’ bad and he was justified in being abusive. Rather than minimise disclosures of abuse, we must ensure the person disclosure feels validated in all they tells us and enable them to acces whatever support they need.
Myth: If a man who has perpetrated abuse and/or violence against his partner says he is sorry and appears to be sorry for his behaviour his partner should be reconciled to him and accept he has repented.
Truth: Although it is possible for perpetrators to change and be transformed through God’s power, very often a perpetrator will appear repentant or appear to become a Christian in order to gain space for his abuse to continue. If he appears to come to faith in Christ and/or appears repentant or remorseful; this cannot be taken at face value. To ascertain whether repentance or conversion is genuine it should be measured over a long period of time, consulting regularly with the victim, as she is most able to see if change has taken place.
Regardless of whether change has taken place, the woman has still been impacted horrifically by the abuse she has suffered and she has the right to choose not to reconcile, if the perpetrator has repented, he will understand this and support her in her decisions.