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Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence

Myth

 Fact

  • Violence is really only an isolated event. There isn't much of it happening.
  • Between one and four million women are abused by a partner each year in the United States.
  • Domestic violence only happens to poor people or minorities.
  • Abuse can happen in all types of households, in any kind of relationship (gay or straight, young or old), regardless of race, economic background or educational level.
  • The victim makes the partner abuse by "getting in their face" and asking for it.
  • Every relationship has arguments and stress, but most people don't hit others when they get angry. An abuser has limited skills to deal with stress. No matter what, you can’t control how someone else behaves.
  • Victims of domestic violence never leave their abusers.
  • Most victims try to leave their abusers several times. Because abusers use violence, financial control, or threats to hurt the children in order to keep the victim in the relationship, it can take at least six efforts before victims leave for good.
  • The victim actually enjoys the attention, likes or needs the violence, or is “always a victim.”
  • Victims of domestic violence desperately want the abuse to end. Many victims call the police and seek help from family and friends to protect themselves. Some victims endure beatings to keep the abuser from attacking the children.
  • Low self-esteem causes victims to get involved in abusive relationships.
  •  Some victims may have low self-esteem as a result of being abused, but there is little to support the theory that low self-esteem causes victims to become involved in abusive relationships.
  • The abuser is a sick or crazy monster, or is angry all the time.
  • An abuser can be passive, a "nice person" who is generous to others and sensitive. Anyone could be an abuser. Abusers often have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality, where they act differently to their partner than they do to the rest of the world.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse is the cause of violence.
  • Most abusers hit whether drunk or sober, though substance use may increase the frequency or severity of violent episodes. Alcohol/substance abuse does not cause abusers to beat their partners, though it is frequently used as an excuse. Even if an abuser gets treatment for substance abuse, the domestic violence may continue because these are two separate problems.
 

For additional domestic violence information:

Domestic Violence Unit
Police Headquarters
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 3156
Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 727-7137
Fax: (202) 727-6491