House of Ruth

9 Myths about domestic violence

Myths about domestic violence

A list of common myths and misconceptions about domestic violence. Challenging these myths is one of the many steps we need to take in order to prevent violence and empower people to recognize and thereby leave abusive relationships.


Myth #1
Domestic violence is an impulse control problem and happens because they “lost their temper,” and not because they meant to hurt their partner.

The truth
Abusers act deliberately and with forethought. Abusers choose whom to abuse. And use violence because it helps them gain and maintain power and control, not because they lose control of their emotions.


Myth #2
It is easy for a victim to leave their abuser, so if they don’t leave, it means they are exaggerating how bad it is.

The truth
There are many reasons why someone can’t escape: fear or threats, lack of safe options, an inability to survive economically can prevent many victims from leaving abusive relationships.

The most dangerous time for a victim can be when they attempt to leave the relationship.


Myth #3
Domestic violence only happens among younger people.

The truth
Approximately half of all elder abuse in women is thought to be domestic violence “grown old”. Older women experiencing abuse are also less likely to seek and receive help.


Myth #4
Domestic violence only affects the adults in the household.

The truth
An estimated 3.3 to 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. And there are numerous links between serious emotional and psychological problems from exposure to domestic violence.


Myth #5
Abusers are violent in all their relationships.

The truth
Most abusers do not use violence in other non-intimate relationships to resolve conflict. And often times present a different personality outside the home than they do inside, which can complicate a victim’s ability to describe their experience.


Myth #6
If a person had better self-esteem their partner wouldn’t abuse them.

The truth
Domestic violence has nothing to do with self-esteem. It is about the perpetrator wielding power and control over their loved one. It is not the victim’s fault, and will not go away with better self-esteem.


Myth #7
Domestic violence only happens in heterosexual relationships.

The truth
Domestic violence also occurs in LGBTQ relationships. In addition to the universal coercive tactics of an abuser, LGBTQ individuals may experience the added fear of being “outed” to family, friends, and peers if they leave the relationship.


Myth #8
It is not considered domestic abuse if both parties use physical violence against each other.

The truth
Assessment of domestic violence hinges on patterns of coercive behavior in order to control another person. A victim may use physical violence in self-defense.


Myth #9
Once an abuser, always an abuser.

The truth
The key to changing abusive habits is the abuser’s willingness to accept responsibility for their actions, want to change, and seek individual or group counseling away from the victim. This does NOT imply that the victim is responsible for encouraging this change nor having to forgive their abuser.