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Common Myths about Domestic Violence

Assumptions and perceptions do not always equal reality.  Many of us do not understand the truth about Domestic Violence.   Below are some of the “common myths” about Domestic Violence with the reality under each.

Domestic violence is not a problem in my community.

In one day last year Pennsylvania´s 61 domestic violence programs served 2,597 victims and their children.

A 24-hour census of domestic violence shelters in all 50 states by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) revealed that across Pennsylvania on Sept. 15, 2009:

  • 1,190 victims were safely sheltered;
  • 1,407 victims benefited from other services, including counseling, legal advocacy and children´s support groups;
  • 950 hotline calls were answered;
  • 1,473 people were trained in domestic violence intervention and prevention;
  • 365 requests for services, including 247 requests for housing to escape an abuser, were unmet due to a critical shortage of funds and staff.


Domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color.

  • Domestic violence happens in all kinds of families and relationships. Persons of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.

Some people deserve to be hit.

  • No one deserves to be abused. Period. The only person responsible for the abuse is the abuser.
  • Physical violence, even among family members, is wrong and against the law.

Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence.

  • Alcohol use, drug use, and stress do not cause domestic violence; they may go along with domestic violence, but they do not cause the violence. Abusers often say they use these excuses for their violence. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1.6 – 1.7)
  • Generally, domestic violence happens when an abuser has learned and chooses to abuse. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1 – 5)
  • Domestic violence is rarely caused by mental illness, but it is often used as an excuse for domestic violence. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1 – 8)

Domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife.

  • Domestic violence affects everyone.
  • About 1 in 3 American women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. (Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: the Commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999)
  • In 1996, 30% of all female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1997)
  • 40% to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children. (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family, 1996)

If it were that bad, she would just leave.

  • There are many reasons why women may not leave. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim want to be abused.
  • Leaving can be dangerous. The most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave. (United States Department of Justice, National Crime Victim Survey, 1995)



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