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Don’t believe the myths about victims and their abusers. Here are the facts to clear things up.

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If you have been affected by domestic violence in some way, you are not alone. One in four women experiences domestic violence at some point during their lifetime. Assault is the single largest cause of injury to women in the United States. Although men are not impacted by domestic violence nearly as much as women, they are not immune. Men make up 3% of domestic violence victims.

Every act of domestic violence needs to be taken seriously. It can cause serious and long-lasting physical and emotional harm for its victims—and it is a crime in the United States.

Below are some common myths about domestic violence and the truths behind them.

Myth: Domestic violence is usually a one-time event.
Fact: Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that happens over and over. It tends to escalate over time and get more dangerous for the victim.

Myth: Domestic violence is a private family matter.
Fact: Keeping domestic violence a secret can harm both the person being abused as well as others living in the same household. It is considered a crime, and if it is kept private, the abuse is likely to continue.

Myth: Victims provoke their partners’ violence.
Fact: There is no excuse for resorting to violence in a relationship. A violent reaction is never an acceptable response to a situation.

Myth: Domestic violence occurs because abusers have trouble controlling their anger.
Fact: Batterers use violence because it helps them gain and maintain power and control in a relationship. They do not attack simply because they lose control of their emotions.

Myth: Domestic violence happens in other places, but it doesn’t happen in my community.
Fact: Domestic violence happens to people of every background, and in all ages, races, religions and social groups. It also occurs in both opposite sex and same sex relationships.

Myth: If a victim wanted out of an abusive relationship, they would just leave. If they stay, it must mean they don’t really mind the abuse.
Fact: Victims stay in an abusive relationship out of fear, as well as the inability to find another safe place to stay or the financial means to live on their own. Often the abuser also threatens to harm the victim or their children if they find out they are trying to leave.

Myth: Older women aren’t usually victims of domestic abuse.
Fact: Older women who were in abusive relationships when they were younger are potentially still in those damaging relationships many years later. Others who are most susceptible to abuse have dementia or physical disabilities that make them vulnerable.

Myth: Domestic violence only affects the adults in the household.
Fact: Many children exposed to violence in the home are also victims of physical abuse. Even if they aren’t physically abused themselves, children who witness domestic violence are at serious risk for long-term physical and mental health problems. They may also be at greater risk of being violent in their own future relationships.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, call 1-800-799-SAFE, or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help.

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Date Last Reviewed: August 12, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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