Myths of domestic violence

  • The Battered Woman syndrome affects only a small percentage of the population.
  • Battered women are masochistic.
  • Battered women are crazy.
  • Middle class women do not get battered as frequently or as violently as do poorer women.
  • Minority group women are battered more frequently than Anglos.
  • Religious beliefs will prevent battering.
  • Battered women are uneducated and have few job skills.
  • Batterers are violent in all their relationships.
  • Batterers are unsucessful and lack resources to cope with the world.
  • Drinking causes battering behavior.
  • Batterers are psychopathic personalities.
  • The police can protect battered women.
  •  The batterer is not a loving partner.
  • A wife batterer also beats his children.
  • Once a battered woman, always a battered woman.
  • Once a batterer, always a batterer.
  • Long-standing battering relationships can change for the better.
  • Battered women deserve to get beaten.
  • Battered women can always leave home.
  • Batterers will cease their violence “when we get married.”
  • Children need their father, even if he is violent (“I’m only staying for the sake of the children”).

From The Battered Woman by Lenore Walker

Domestic violence is/should be a “private affair” and not a matter for criminal justice intervention because it ocurs within the family or affects only the parties involved.

 FACT: The cost to us as a social (in medical costs, lost productivity, and the emotionally crippling effect on children) is staggering. Domestic abuse is a crime against society and needs to be treated as such.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle of the stories told by the victim and batterer.

FACT:  Because of the minimization and denial of the violence characteristic of battering relationships (by the batterers because of their unwillingness to take responsibility, by victims because of their fear in acknowledging it), the truth is is often far worse than either admits.

 The victim is responsible for the violence because she “provokes” him.

FACT:  With exception of true self-defense, no amount of “provocation” should be considered a valid excuse for criminal behavior.

Domestic abuse is usually “mutual combatants” who are both violent – therefore, the incident “cancels out” and requires no intervention.

FACT:  Often the second party is a battered woman who was self-defending or fighting back after a long period of escalating abuse.  The parties are generally not equal in power or violence.

Batterers don’t mean to be violent but just “lose control.”

FACT:  Battering is purposeful behavior aimed at acquiring power and control.  Batterers batter because it works.

Domestic violence does not affect children unless they themselves are physically injured.

FACT:  By definition, children who are exposed to violence between parents are emotionally abused.  They also learn societal norms by modeling parental behavior and often repeat the pattern in their own lives.

Battered women can always leave home.

FACT:  In truth, battered women do not have the freedom to leave after being assaulted.  They often have a psychological inability to do so, no place to go, and no means of survival.  A battered woman is not free to end her victimization without assistance.