(CMR) There are many misconceptions about domestic abuse, especially when it comes to the victim. People often ask what did this person do to cause their partner to react violently?
But is the victim really to be blamed?
Domestic violence or intimate partner violence is a pattern of controlling behavior that one partner uses to gain power over the other. This can include physical violence, threats of physical violence, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
Domestic violence is a common problem. Research has found that one-fourth of women worldwide will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted, and domestic violence is the leading cause.
Men can experience domestic violence as well, but 85 percent of domestic violence victims identify as women.
To effectively deal with domestic violence or help others (or ourselves) deal with the trauma, Dr. Allison Young believes we have to learn about it rather than make presumptions.
Here are five hurtful lies about domestic violence that Young discussed in an article on Everyday Health:
There is something wrong with me? Many domestic violence victims believe that they play a role in their abuse. If they were able to do something different in the relationship, the abuse wouldn’t be happening. This misperception can be exacerbated if they dare to tell others about the abuse and are met with disbelieving comments such as, “But he’s such a good dad,” or “He’s fine at work.” The reality is that there is never a reason for abuse. And as to the disbelieving comments, many perpetrators know how to be charming and charismatic. These seemingly positive characteristics are actually something some abusers use to gain power in relationships.
She attracts abuse. Similarly, some people see a victim’s history of trauma as evidence that she somehow attracts traumatic experiences. The fact is that multiple, rather than single, traumatic experiences are the norm. Trauma is unfortunately common, and for women who experience a trauma, it is more common to experience more than one than just one.
Why doesn't the person being abused leave? Why don’t victims leave? Because it’s not always that easy. Domestic violence, by definition, is rooted in a power struggle that often leaves the victim feeling incapable of walking away. Those being abused are often justifiably concerned that their abuser will find them wherever they go, that the abuse will continue, or that there will be repercussions such as rumors and attempts to take sole custody of children, among other things. For some, economic coercion is also part of the abuse.
Call the police -Why don’t victims pick up the phone and dial 911? Because, psychologically, there’s often a fear that there will be physical retaliation if that phone call is made. If children are involved, or if the abuser is the sole financial provider, there’s also fear about how police involvement will affect children and the ability to maintain their home.
Her story changed- Some women, when pushed about details of their assault (either in court or by loved ones), cannot remember all the details. They even may confuse some details and tell slightly different stories each time they open up about it. Far too often, this is taken as proof that someone is not honest about the abuse. However, there are established psychological reasons why some survivors do not remember their trauma. In some cases, people dissociate during their trauma, and this interferes with memory formation.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, and there is no friend, family, or community member you feel comfortable reaching out to, consider reaching out to your physician or a therapist. Young suggests reaching out for professional help despite the stigma you may face. If there is a domestic abuse hotline available, use it. Some organizations may be able to offer you help to leave an abusive relationship.