OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MYTHS
MYTH: THE REAL PROBLEM IS COUPLES WHO ASSAULT EACH OTHER. WOMEN ARE JUST
AS VIOLENT AS MEN.
FACT: The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office prosecutes women,
as well as men, for domestic violence. A well-publicized study conducted by Dr. Murray
Strauss at the University of New Hampshire found that women use violent means to resolve
conflict in relationships as often as men. However, the study also concluded that when
the context and consequences of an assault are measured, the majority of victims are women.
The U.S. Department of Justice has found that 95% of the victims of spouse abuse are female.
Men can be victims.
MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AFFECTS ONLY A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE
POPULATION AND IS RARE.
FACT: National studies estimate that 3 to 4 million women are beaten each year
in our country. A study conducted in 1995 found that 31% of women surveyed admitted to
having been physically assaulted by a husband or boyfriend. Domestic violence is the
leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country, and
the FBI estimates that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Thirty percent of female
homicide victims are killed by partners or ex-partners and 1,500 women are murdered
as a result of domestic violence each year in the United States.
MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OCCURS ONLY IN POOR,
UNEDUCATED, AND MINORITY FAMILIES.
FACT: Studies of domestic violence consistently have found that
battering occurs among all types of families, regardless of income, profession, region,
ethnicity, educational level or race. However, the fact that lower income victims and
abusers are over-represented in calls to police, battered women's shelters, and social
services may be due to a lack of other resources.
MYTH: ALCOHOL ABUSE CAUSES
FACT: Although there is a high correlation between alcohol, or
other substance abuse, and battering, it is not a causal relationship. Batterers use
drinking as one of many excuses for their violence and as a way to place the responsibility
for their violence elsewhere. Stopping the abusers' drinking will not stop the violence.
Both battering and substance abuse need to be addressed separately, as overlapping yet
MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS USUALLY A ONE TIME,
ISOLATED OCCURRENCE AND ONLY INVOLVES PHYSICAL ABUSE.
FACT: Domestic Violence is a term used to describe
many different pattern types of partner abuse. Oversall, Domestic Violence is a
pattern of coercion and control that one person exerts over another. Domestic Violence
is not just one physical attack. It includes the repeated use of a number of tactics,
including intimidation, controlling behavior, threats, economic deprivation, isolation,
and psychological and sexual abuse. Physical violence is just one of these tactics.
Often, physical abuse is both preceded by and accompanied by emotional abuse. Emotional
abuse includes yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. The aim of emotional abuse
is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. The various forms
of abuse utilized by batterers help to maintain power and control over
their spouses and partners.
MYTH: MEN WHO BATTER ARE OFTEN GOOD FATHERS AND SHOULD HAVE JOINT
CUSTODY OF THEIR CHILDREN IF THE COUPLE SEPARATES.
FACT: Studies have found that men who batter their wives also abuse
their children in 70% of cases. Even when children are not directly abused, they suffer
as a result of witnessing one parent assault another. Batterers often display an increased
interest in their children at the time of separation, as a means of maintaining contact with,
and thus control over, their partners.
MYTH: WHEN THERE IS VIOLENCE IN THE FAMILY, ALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY
ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE DYNAMIC, AND THEREFORE, ALL MUST CHANGE FOR THE VIOLENCE TO STOP.
FACT: Only the batterer has the ability to stop the violence.
Battering is a behavioral choice for which the batterer must be held accountable.
Many victims make numerous attempts to change their behavior in the hope that
this will stop the abuse. This does not work. Changes in family members' behavior will
not cause the batterer to be non-violent.
MYTH: VICTIMS ARE MASOCHISTIC AND PROVOKE THE ABUSE.
THEY MUST LIKE IT OR THEY WOULD LEAVE.
FACT: Victim provocation is no more common in domestic violence
than in any other crime. Victims often make repeated attempts to leave violent
relationships, but are prevented from doing so by increased violence and control tactics
on the part of the abuser. Other factors which inhibit a victim's ability to leave include
economic dependence, few viable options for housing and support, unhelpful responses from
the criminal justice system or other agencies, social isolation, cultural or religious
constraints, a commitment to the abuser and the relationship and fear of further violence.
It has been estimated that the danger to a victim increases by 70% when they attempt to
leave, as the abuser escalates use of violence when they begin to lose control.
MYTH: MEN HAVE A RIGHT TO DISCIPLINE THEIR PARTNERS FOR MISBEHAVING.
BATTERING IS NOT A CRIME.
FACT: While our society derives from a patriarchal legal system
that afforded men the right to physically chastise their wives and children, we DO NOT
live under such a system now. Women and children are no longer considered property.
Source: Clark County Prosecuting Attorney