The Truth About Relationship Violence
violence usually only happens between people who are married.
FACT: As many as 1/3 of all high school and college-age
young people experience violence in an intimate or dating
relationship. Physical abuse is as common among high school and
college-age couples as married couples.
MYTH: Most people will end a relationship if partner hits
FACT: Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in
their relationship continue to date their abuser after the onset
of violence. Ending a relationship is always difficult,
especially when violence is involved. There are a multitude of
reasons why women find it difficult to leave an abusive
relationship. Generally, an abusive partner has isolated their
partner and eroded their self-esteem so much so that they may
come to believe they deserve the abuse. The judgment of others
-"She's staying so she must like it on some level." - make it
even harder to leave. The real question isn't "Why does she
stay?" but instead "Why is he being abusive?"
MYTH: People abuse their partners because they can't control
FACT: People who abuse others are not usually out of control nor
do they have anger problems. Think about it, everyone has times
when they lose their temper, however, they choose not to become
physically or emotional abusive. Abusers use anger as a way
to gain power and control over another person. They often
use tactics such as threats, intimidation, psychological abuse
and isolation from friends and family to control their partners.
If abusers were truly out of
control, there would be many more relationship violence
homicides. In fact, many abusers do "control" their violence,
abusing their partners in less visible places on their bodies,
such as on the torso. Furthermore, researchers have found that
domestic violence often occurs in cycles, and every episode is
preceded by a predictable, repeated pattern of behavior and
decisions made by the abuser.
MYTH: Relationship violence
doesn't happen in the LGBTQ community.
Relationship violence occurs in
the LGBTQ community, but is often hidden. Between 25%-33% of
relationships between LGBTQ partners include abuse, a rate equal
to that of heterosexual relationships.
MYTH: Most relationship violence
incidents are caused by alcohol or drug abuse.
FACT: Many people have
alcohol and/or drug problems but are not violent, similarly,
many perpetrators are not substance abusers. How people behave when
they are "under the influence" of alcohol and/or drugs depends
on a complex combination of personal, social, physical and
emotional factors. And like many other types of behavior,
alcohol or drug affected behavior patterns are learned.
It is often easier to blame an
alcohol or drug abuse problem than to admit that a partner is violent even when sober. Episodes of problem drinking
and incidents of relationship violence often occur separately
and must be treated as two distinct issues. Neither alcoholism
nor drugs can explain or excuse relationship violence.
MYTH: When a couple is having a
relationship violence problem, it is just that they have a
bad relationship. Often, poor communication is the real problem.
FACT: Bad relationships do
not cause or result in relationship violence. The idea that bad
relationships cause violence is one of the most common
misconceptions about relationship violence. First, it encourages
all parties involved - including and especially the abused
partner - to
minimize the seriousness of the problem and focus their energies
on "improving the relationship" in the false hope that it will
stop the violence. It allows the abuser to blame the bad
relationship and the violence itself on their partner, rather than
acknowledging his/her own responsibility.
More importantly, improving the
relationship is not likely by itself to end the violence.
Violence is learned behavior. Many couples have bad
relationships yet never become physically violent. Many
abusers are violent in every one of their relationships,
whether they consider them bad or good. The violent individual
is the sole source and cause of the violence, and neither
his/her partner nor their relationship should be held
MYTH: The person being abused
must have done something to provoke the abuse.
FACT: No one deserves to be
beaten, battered, threatened or victimized by violence. Abusers
will rarely admit that they are the cause of the problem. In
fact, putting the blame for the violence on the abused person is a way
to manipulate their partner and other people. Abusers will tell their
partner, "You made me mad" or "You made me jealous" or will
try to shift the burden by saying, "Everyone acts like that."
Most abused partners try to placate and please their abusive partners in
order to deescalate the violence. The abuser chooses to abuse
and bears full responsibility for the violence.
MYTH: Low self-esteem causes
victims to get involved with abusive relationships.
FACT: Traditional theories
presumed that individuals with adequate self-esteem would not
"allow" themselves to be abused by intimate partners or spouses.
In fact, studies have demonstrated that people who are in
abusive relationships fail to share common characteristics other than being
female. There is little support for the theory that low
self-esteem causes partners who are abused to become involved in abusive
relationships, however, some abused partners may experience a decrease
in self-esteem as a result of being abused, since perpetrators
frequently degrade, humiliate and criticize them.
MYTH: Relationship violence happens most often among people of
color and people in lower socio-economic groups.
FACT: Relationship violence happens among all classes,
races and cultural groups in society. Researchers and service
providers have found, however, that economic and social factors
can have a significant impact on how people respond to violent
incidents and what kind of help they seek. Affluent people can
usually afford private help - doctors, lawyers and counselors
while people with fewer financial resources (i.e., those
belonging to a lower social economic class or a minority group)
tend to call the police or other public agencies. These agencies
are often the only available source of statistics on
relationship violence, and consequently, lower class and
minority communities tend to be overrepresented in those
figures, creating a distorted image of the problem.
Source: Jane Doe Inc.