There are many myths and mis-truths about Domestic Violence
Myth - Women often provoke men into hitting them by the way they behave
- This myth is often used by abusers to justify their behaviour and is a way of trying to blame the woman for the violence perpetrated against her.
- Abusers make choices when they abuse and it is important that they take full responsibility for their actions.
- No behaviour on the part of the woman can justify a violence response.
Myth – Drugs and Alcohol Abuse are the main causes of domestic violence
- There are many abusers who do not use drugs or alcohol.
- All men who use drugs and alcohol are not abusers.
- Abusers should not blame drugs and alcohol for the choices they make.
- Sometimes, if abuse is present in a relationship, alcohol or drug use can make existing abusive behaviour worse but it is not the underlying cause of the abuse. Abuse is about exercising power in a relationship in a variety of ways in order to control the other person.
Myth - Abusers can’t control their anger
- Abusers make clear choices about who, when and where they engage in abusive behaviour. Most of the time the abuse is aimed at their partner, not at others such as friends, collegues or members of the public. Blaming their abuse on their anger is another way of trying to avoid taking responsibility for their behaviour.
Myth - Violence is part of the culture of some communities
- International and National research consistently shows that across the board1 in 5 women experience abuse within an intimate relationship
- Domestic violence can happen to any woman and is not particular to any community or ethnicity – it cuts across all classes, backgrounds, religions and culture.
Myth – Women in abusive relationships choose to stay in them - otherwise they would just leave
- Choosing to leave any relationship is not an easy decision – women who wish to leave an abusive relationship can face many barriers.
- Worries about money and housing, hope that their partner may still change and concerns for their children are just some of the issues that concern women who are thinking of leaving.
- Fear is also a factor as leaving a relationship or just after leaving can be a very dangerous time for women, with many abusers threatening to harm or even kill their partners or their children if the woman leaves.
- Isolation and lack of support is often a factor, which in turn, affects the woman’s self-esteem and confidence, leaving a sense of exhaustion and hopelessness making it even more difficult to leave.
- Women need information and support irrespective of whether they are still living in, or have just left an abusive relationship. Sometimes women will leave several times before they make a final decision to end the relationship – the type of support they receive can have a significant impact on whether they leave or stay.
Myth - Domestic Violence is a mutual issue between the genders – women abuse men just as much as men abuse women - its just less visible because women are believed more than men
- Research, drawing on both international and national data from the courts, the police, hospitals and support agencies, consistently shows that in the majority of cases the perpetrator of domestic violence is a man and the victim is a woman.
- In Ireland, research carried out by the National Crime Council in 2005 into severe domestic abuse experienced by both women and men, found that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 17 men experienced domestic violence.
- Of the female murders in Ireland since 1996, half of the resolved cases were committed by a husband, ex-husband, partner or ex-partner.
- Women are over twice as likely as men to have experienced severe physical abuse, seven times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse, and are more likely to experience serious injuries than men.
- According to the research, women are twice as likely to be injured as a result of domestic abuse; more likely to experience serious injuries; more likely to require medical attention or hospitalization as a result of abuse; and the impact of the abuse in terms of fear, distress and health impacts is more significant for women than men. (NCC & ERSI, 2005)
Myth - All men who are abusive come from a violent home
- While it can be the case that some men who are abusive have grown up in a violent home, using that fact to justify their own abusive behaviour is a way of not taking responsibility for their actions in the present. Many men who came from a violent home are not abusers.