House of Ruth

9 Myths about domestic violence

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.

Alma’s Story of Hope

In 2021, Alma* was accepted into House of Ruth’s FamilySpace housing program. FamilySpace serves mothers who have struggled with substance abuse. Alma lives in her own apartment in the community and receives both income-based rental assistance and case management support from House of Ruth. Alma has gone through difficult times, but thanks to your support, House of Ruth has been here to help her recover.

Alma is in her sixties, and most of her children are already independent adults. Alma is a survivor – a survivor of domestic violence, substance abuse, clinical depression, and loss. Within a period of six months, Alma lost several people she was very close to, including her partner, who died from overdosing. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, Alma experienced challenges with accessing her usual mental healthcare provider and obtaining medication for her depression. With the onslaught of so much overwhelming grief and the triggering of previous trauma, Alma turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.

Two months ago, Alma’s son found her after she overdosed. With the help of Narcan, paramedics were able to save her and bring her to the hospital. Alma expressed that she was ready for further treatment, and her case manager connected her to the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. There she went through a one-week detox process, and she decided to pursue additional treatment. She spent 28 days at an inpatient facility. While there, Alma was able to learn and practice new coping mechanisms. She says she now feels like she has the tools to maintain her sobriety and mental health. She is back on medication for her depression, regularly seeing a therapist, and has connected with Narcotics Anonymous for critical ongoing support.

House of Ruth is supporting Alma as she puts her whole self into healing. Our staff has seen Alma’s energy and outlook change so much – she is healthy, smiling, and feeling really good about her growth. She is embracing the support available to her and wants to stay connected to ensure her continued sobriety and good health.

*Name has been changed

Gifts for Families 2022

Gifts for Families is an annual program that we host for the families and women currently in one of our 15 programs here at House of Ruth. With more than 450 people, we strive to give each person two gifts for the holiday season so they may celebrate with their loved ones.

We are always in need of funds to sustain our ability to offer survivors of domestic violence and homelessness homes, to offer high-quality childcare at no cost, and to provide counseling to domestic abuse survivors. During the holidays, we also ask for your special support as we work to purchase each gift from our Target registry. From arts n’ crafts to gift cards, your support makes all the difference to our community.

Thank you for all that you do.

Where can I find the registry?
Our target registry is here.

How do I use the registry?
Find our instructional how-to video here.

Where do the gifts go?
We aim to give two gifts to each individual in our program. It is often easier to find buyers for children’s gifts over adult gifts – but we need both!

How do we give gifts to our families?
Each of our programs has amazing staff who will come to our office, pick up gifts for their program, and deliver them to survivors.

Can I send a gift that isn’t on the registry?
You may, and we will be grateful. At the same time, we would love if you could select gifts from our registry as our families have picked them out!

Why send a gift card?
Gift cards allow our responsible families and women the freedom to purchase what they need – groceries, clothing, and other necessities.

Please email Elizabeth Kiker at ekiker@houseofruth.org or call 202.597.5803 with any questions or concerns regarding Gifts for Families.

Nina’s* Story of Hope

Two years ago, Nina* and her children left a safe house in another state and moved into House of Ruth’s supportive housing for mothers who have survived domestic violence and their children. Nina took a leap of faith in choosing to come to D.C. Thanks to her bravery and your generosity, she found the support she needed to rebuild her life at House of Ruth.

Nina knows she has come so far, AND that she will go further. She says, “I believe in myself and I can do this for my kids.” Since arriving at House of Ruth, Nina sought out a therapist and began ongoing counseling sessions. She also started school to become a medical assistant, and is now four months away from earning her degree. Her school will assist her in obtaining an externship, and she eagerly anticipates beginning a medical career.

Nina’s children are doing extremely well in school. They are in therapy and getting the help they need, and she is really happy about that. Nina’s oldest daughter remembers the most about their previous life, and for a long time, she hated men. With therapy and distance, she is overcoming that fear and anger. Her case manager has been there to provide encouragement and support to the whole family. Nina says, “My kids love the House of Ruth staff – my case manager has been amazing, and so amazing to my kids. They really love her – they just love hearing her voice.” Nina says, “When I went through a rough patch, I felt like she really felt my pain, and that was amazing.”

Nina’s goals are to finish school, to start a successful career, to obtain housing for her family, and to purchase a car. Our staff is thrilled to support Nina as she makes progress toward reaching these goals. Nina says, “I have gotten much stronger”, and “I feel like I can do anything.”

*Name has been changed.

Olivia’s* Story

Olivia*, 45, initially came to the DVSC in a personal crisis as she attempted to separate from a highly verbally abusive long-term intimate partner. After discussing issues related to safety, anxiety, and various community resources with her counselor, Lorena was able to safely separate from her partner and enter a new phase of her life with a renewed feeling of hope. Instead of ending her therapy after her initial goals were met, however, she continued working with her counselor and turned her attention to other aspects of her life. Over time, Lorena came to have a stronger sense of self-esteem and self-worth, and made a number of positive life changes, including advancing her career. Like many other DVSC clients, Lorena was able to achieve both short-and long-term therapy goals as a result of her personal determination and the DVSC’s “no session limit” policy, so long as the therapy continues to be effective.

*Name has been changed.

House of Ruth Job Fair on August 13th


House of Ruth is an excellent employer, with market rate salaries and an attractive benefits package—thanks in part to your generous donations! But, like the rest of the world, we are facing unprecedented employee shortages. So, to help grow our excellent team, we are having a job fair on August 13, at our Kidspace facility, at 2910 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

We are recruiting for many positions, from assistant teachers (who must have a current CDA in infants/toddlers) to Life Skills Trainers and Case Managers. Applicants should bring a resume! Current staff and our HR team will be on hand to conduct brief interviews and answer questions, and we hope you will help us get the word out! We have a flyer that we are sharing on social media—please post and re-share yourself! Thank you for all you do to make House of Ruth a resource for our amazing clients.

Read our 2022 Annual Report!

Thank you for your generous support for the women, children and families at House of Ruth. Between the COVID pandemic and the epidemic of racial injustice in Washington, D.C., House of Ruth clients faced and overcame so much this difficult year. But with your help, we opened Kidspace in February 2021, our brand new therapeutic childcare facility where we are open to more children than our old facilities could ever hold, and served 1,000+ people—providing so many things these families need, including safe housing and counseling.

We are thrilled to share with you our 2022 Annual Report, which is available now on our website!

Thanks to your support, 96 percent of the families and single women who participate in our service-enriched housing programs for at least one year are able to secure and sustain safe and stable permanent housing after they leave House of Ruth. Your generosity has made a positive, lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of women and children.

So, please, take time to read the 2022 Annual Report and see the impact of all your contributions to House of Ruth. Thank you for continuing to change lives for the better through your generosity.

Kelly’s Story

Kelly* (45 years old) came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) after more than two decades of being in an abusive relationship with the father of her children. Initially, Kelly’s goals were to better understand her experience and begin to consider a way forward that would benefit her children. Kelly and her DVSC counselor worked closely together for months to help her gain this insight and start to process the effects of the abuse she and her children endured.

Armed with this knowledge, Kelly was able to more clearly see a path forward. With the support of her DVSC counselor, Kelly made major changes in her life. After approximately a year of working with her DVSC counselor, Kelly was able to separate from her husband and move into her own home with her children. Kelly and her DVSC counselor ended their work together after being able to share in Kelly’s success in creating a safe and abuse-free environment for herself and her children.

*Name has been changed.

Donations from a Generous Community

In June, House of Ruth received many generous in-kind donations from various organizations throughout D.C.

Breakthru Beverage DC organized a community outreach project for their management team and put together welcome bags full of personal hygiene supplies for clients. The National Capital Baptist Convention of Washington DC and Vicinity held a laundry detergent drive and delivered over 3,800 laundry detergent pods to our Madison program. The Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter Queen of Sheba #2 collected and donated countless items directly from our “Currently Needed Items” list!

We want to thank all these organizations for putting in their time and effort to donate to the House of Ruth. We are beyond appreciative of the generosity demonstrated by the individuals that felt the desire in their hearts to give and support.

For any additional information about donations, reach out to Elizabeth Kiker at ekiker@houseofruth.org.

2022 Giant National BBQ Battle

On June 25-26th, the Giant National Capital Barbeque Battle hosted its 30th annual Barbeque Battle at our nation’s capital, and the producers graciously donated 50 tickets to the women, children and staff at House of Ruth this year! The women and children had an amazing time during the weekend event, enjoying the day’s festivities with food, laughter and music, and of course, they had the chance to sample a variety of BBQ staples from D.C.’s local restaurants. On behalf of the women, children and staff at House of Ruth, we want to thank the producers of the Giant National Capital Barbeque Battle for generously providing tickets to this incredibly fun-filled weekend!