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Home Truths about Domestic Abuse

There are many widely believed myths and misconceptions surrounding domestic abuse and its causes. By believing them we allow the violence against women to continue.

Myth #1: It only happens to poor women on council estates

Domestic abuse happens to women of all ages regardless of race, religion, sexuality, education, how much money you have. It can happen to anyone. There are no exceptions.

Myth #2: If it was that bad, she’d leave

It can be very difficult for a woman to leave an abusive relationship – even if she wants to. There are many reasons why women don’t leave including fear, shame, guilt, hope and love. Women in abusive relationships need support and understanding – not judgement.

Myth #3: If it’s not physical, it’s not domestic abuse

Domestic abuse does not always include physical violence. Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour which can be verbal, emotional, psychological, degrading, financial, sexual, threatening, coercive and controlling, as well as physically violent.

Myth #4: Alcohol and drugs cause domestic abuse

Many men are violent when they’re stone-cold sober. Many men who drink never lay a finger on their partner. Perpetrators are the cause of domestic abuse; drugs and alcohol cannot be used to deny responsibility.

Myth #5: She made him do it

Women are too often blamed for their partner’s abusive behaviour. She provoked him because she’s too mouthy, always nagging him. She’s as bad as him. It takes two to tango. No one deserves to be abused, no matter how they may have behaved. The perpetrator is ALWAYS responsible for the abuse.

Myth #6: Just a ‘domestic’ because all couples argue

Abuse and disagreement are not the same things. Different opinions are normal and completely acceptable in healthy relationships. Abuse is not a disagreement – it is the use of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological violence or threats in order to control another person’s thinking, opinions, emotions and behaviour.

Myth #7: Women are attracted to abusive men

To suggest that some women are particularly attracted to abusive men is victim-blaming. Most perpetrators can be charming so when he first meets a new partner, often no one, let alone the woman he has just met, would suspect he would ever be abusive. Perpetrators are not easy to spot.

Myth #8: What goes on behind closed doors is none of our business

People think what goes on in the home is private, and not their problem. Domestic abuse costs society over £66bn a year (Home Office, 2019): hospital treatment, medication, court proceedings, lawyers’ fees, imprisonment – not to mention the psychological and physical impact on those who experience it. Domestic abuse is a crime and people must speak out for it to stop.

Myth #9: Domestic abuse is a ‘crime of passion’, a momentary loss of control

Domestic abuse is rarely about losing control, but taking control. Perpetrators rarely act spontaneously when angry because abuse is about exerting control over whom he abuses.

Myth #10: Abusers grow up in violent homes

Growing up in an abusive home can be a risk factor, but many children grow up to be repelled by violence because they know first hand the damage it causes. Childhood experiences cannot be used as excuses by perpetrators. Abuse is a choice an abuser makes; he alone is responsible.

Myth #11: Children are not affected by domestic abuse

Children may not be the specific objects of domestic abuse but just witnessing abuse can cause long-term trauma. Even when they do not witness abuse, they may suffer because their mothers are unable to be the mothers they want to be.

Myth #12: Domestic abuse isn’t very common

Domestic abuse is unfortunately very common, and the vast majority of victims are women. Domestic abuse happens every single day all over the world, and affects women of all ages, classes, cultures and backgrounds. It is a serious, widespread crime.

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