Monday, October 5, 2015

10 Myths about Domestic Violence

This month’s #NWARKCares cause is a tough one to talk about. It’s tough because in 2015, I feel like domestic violence should be a thing of the past. But it’s not. It’s hard because it’s not something that people want to talk about, which is exactly why the topic needs to be broached. It’s hard because people close to me have been victims of domestic abuse. Three out of four Americans know someone who has been victimized domestically. If we keep silent then those statistics simply will never improve. 

Because many are so reticent to speak out on the subject, there are countless misconceptions about domestic violence that are accepted as truth. These myths about domestic violence only serve to perpetuate the violence.

Myth 1:

Only women are affected by domestic violence.

While it is true that women are targeted more often than men—1 in 3 women compared to 1 in 4 men are victims of domestic violence—abuse against men does happen. If domestic abuse is a hush-hush topic already, then speaking out about abuse against men is almost nonexistent. Unfortunately, this happens in both the heterosexual and homosexual communities.

When I was a young manager for Dillard’s in Dallas, I had an employee that I will call Sam. Sam was a flamboyant, happy-go-lucky, young man. He was openly gay and was in a relationship with a man that I remember as middle-aged and dowdy. When Sam came to work with a black eye one day, I was understandably concerned. I asked him what happened, but didn’t press the issue when he didn’t want to talk. As time went on, Sam began to open up to me about the physical and emotional abuse that he endured at the hands of his partner. At the time, I had never encountered a male victim of abuse, nor had I even imagined that it was possible.

If he had been a woman, I know that I would have suggested any number of resources that are available to female victims of domestic violence. However, I could think of nothing to offer besides my support if he chose to leave his abuser. Sam ended up leaving Dillard’s after an accident put him in the hospital. Whenever I went to visit him at the hospital his partner was always present, acting the doting caregiver. I will never know if he truly suffered an accident or if things escalated with his partner.

You may be surprised to know, as I was, that there are resources for male victims of domestic violence. The Northwest Arkansas Women's shelter states on their website, "Domestic violence does not discriminate; therefore, our clients are from across all demographics in terms of age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and educational background. We assist any person who meets the criteria for emergency intervention and assistance due to domestic violence or sexual assault."

Myth 2:

Abuse is deserved.

Victims of domestic abuse need support, not judgment. The women and men who are abused usually already have the idea in their head that they deserve to be treated they way they are treated, or that something that they have done has caused the abuse. This simply is not true. The only person responsible for abuse is the abuser.

Myth 3:

Physical battery is the only form of abuse.

Abuse stems from the abuser’s need for power and control. This can manifest itself in many forms of abuse including economic, emotional, sexual and isolation.  

Myth 4:

Domestic violence is a heterosexual issue only.

Homosexual partner abuse is prevalent and occurs at the higher rates than in heterosexual relationships. In this eye-opening article from "The Atlantic," the author quotes a report from the CDC stating that “bisexual women had an overwhelming prevalence of violent partners in their lives: 75 percent had been with a violent partner, as opposed to 46 percent of lesbian women and 43 percent of straight women. For bisexual men, that number was 47 percent. For gay men, it was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.” 

Myth 5:

Domestic violence only affects the poor.

Abuse can happen to anyone. Persons of any economic background, class, culture, age, sexual orientation, and marital status can be victims of domestic abuse or abusers.

Myth 6:

Many reports of sexual assault are false.

The fact is that only 2-4% of sexual assault reports are false, in keeping with the rate of false reports for other felonies.

Myth 7:

If the abuse were really that bad, he or she would just leave.

There are many reasons that a victim of intimate partner violence might stay with the abuser. Often times, the abuser will threaten the victim’s life if they try to leave. Not leaving does not mean that the victim is in a safe situation, or that they are not being abused. Family and social pressure, shame, financial barriers, children and religious beliefs all can factor into a victim staying with their abuser.

Myth 8:

Abuse is rare.

As stated earlier, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been the victim of severe abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Furthermore, the likelihood that someone close to you has been victimized is significant. 3 out of 4 Americans know someone who has been victimized domestically.

Myth 9:

Abuse is the result of alcohol or drugs. 

While it is true the 1/4-1/2 of all abusers have substance abuse issues, the alcohol or drug use is not to blame. Alcohol and drugs cannot cause domestic violence.

Myth 10:

Domestic violence is not a community issue. 

We all have the responsibility to care for one another.

Here in Northwest Arkansas there are many resources for victims of domestic violence. Here are some ways that you can help:
  • Ask a local shelter what their current needs are and donate. Peace At Home Family Shelter has a list on their website, you can view it here: 
  • Volunteer at Peace At Home Family Shelter or Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter.
  • Donate your gently used clothing, furniture and household items to one of the shelter thrift stores. I have a load of items all ready to take to the NWA Women's Shelter Thrift Store.
  • Be informed. Know the signs of abuse and speak up.

If you are reading this and you need help or know someone in an abusive relationship, please seek help by calling one of these confidential hotlines: 1-800-775-9011 and 1-877-442-9811. Someone is available to assist you 24 hours a day. 


  1. I love that this issue has been spoken about, personally having gone through two relationships with domestic violence and having survived it, and learned from it, also having grown up with it as a key factor in my childhood. this issue is very close to my heart. people think that if they dont see it sometimes that its not happening and cant happen in there world. but it can happen at any time to anyone. thanks for sharing this!