October can often bring to mind pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and Halloween costumes. But, did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Domestic violence, still a very much taboo topic, is happening behind closed doors all over the United States and beyond. In fact, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. Here are just a few and the actual truth and facts to dispel them.
Myth #1: Domestic violence is purely physical and includes battering, beating and sexual assault
The truth is domestic violence is not just limited to someone being hit or battered by his or her partner. Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional or psychological abuse. Batters use a range of tactics to terrorize, frighten, manipulate, humiliate, harm and sometimes kill an intimate partner.
Myth #2: Domestic violence victims are only women
All genders experience domestic violence from both sides; as the victim and as the abuser. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by a domestic partner.
Myth #3: Domestic violence only happens to low income, women of color
The truth is that wealthy, well-educated individuals of any race are just as prone to violence as anyone. Celebrities who have spoken publicly about being victims of domestic violence include Rihanna, Robin Givens, Nigella Lawson, Halle Berry, Shakira and Sarah Hyland.
Myth #4: The victim of domestic violence can simply leave the relationship
The truth is that only the abuser is to blame for being abusive. And the emotional rollercoaster that the victim is taken on leads to damaged self-confidence and many times, downright fear of standing up to or leaving the abuser.
The abuser often uses a cyclical pattern where he or she will abuse, feel guilty and/or scared of getting caught, create excuses for their behavior, act normal again, fantasize about abusing again and then set up the partner for abuse again and justify it.
Many times a victim has no safe haven to go to where they may be safe from their abuser. Many are scared for their lives and don’t have the financial resources and supportive network to leave and start a new life.
Myth #5: Alcohol, drug use, or mental illnesses are usually caused by domestic violence
The truth is that alcohol, drug use or mental illness do not cause domestic violence, even though sometimes they may go along with it. In general, the cause for domestic violence is when an abuser has learned this behavior and chooses to abuse.
Blaming alcohol or drugs is an excuse and a way to deny responsibility. Both may sometimes be a trigger for an attack, but they are not the underlying cause. Many sober people are violent and become abusers as well.