Demystifying some myths about Domestic Abuse
Domestic violence manifests in societies where there is an unequal power imbalance between men and women in a relationship.
Domestic violence occurs across the socio-economic spectrum, it isn’t voluntary and victims are not responsible. It may seem as if domestic violence is a working-class phenomenon because women in families on lower incomes are more likely to seek help and in this way come to the notice of helping agencies. Women from more affluent and middle-class backgrounds may be less likely to seek assistance because they fear being noticed or disrupting the status quo due to personal embarrassment and the possible damage to their husband’s careers if the violence was disclosed. Access to personal financial resources makes it easier to leave an abusive relationship and sustain an independent life without resorting to charitable organizations and public support agencies.
Domestic violence is caused by alcohol and other drug use.
Contrary to common belief, AOD is not a cause of domestic violence. An increase in rates of alcohol and other drug use (AOD), is known to impair judgment, reduce inhibition, and increase aggression. Being ‘under the influence’ of alcohol and other drugs at the time of the assault provides the perpetrator ‘courage’ to assault their partners, however, drunkenness is not an excuse for violence. People who abuse their partners when they are intoxicated also abuse when they are sober, while many people who consume alcohol are not violent to their partners. It should be noted, however, that injuries to the victim are often more severe when alcohol is involved. Alcoholism and child abuse, including incest, seem also to be connected.
How often does domestic violence happen?
Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime, occurring primarily at home. Women often don’t report or disclose domestic abuse to the police (HMIC, 2014) (Women’s Aid, 2021) Many victims of domestic abuse do not come to the attention of the police, which is why the estimated number of victims is much higher than the number of police-recorded incidents and crimes. Domestic and family violence at the hands of a partner is more common than we think. 1. Approximately one in four women (23% or 2.2 million) experienced violence by an intimate partner, compared to one in thirteen men (7.8% or 703,700).
Statistics based on Crime Survey for England and Wales 2016
Based on the statistical bulletin (March 2016) on domestic violence which brings together national and local domestic abuse statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), police recorded crime and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data, 36% of victims of domestic abuse were males and 64% of victims of domestic abuse were females. This equates to approximately 1 male to every 2 female victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic violence can leave the victim with very low self-esteem.
It is a misconception that victims who are abused must have low self-esteem is harmful because it focuses blame on the victim. This confuses causes and adverse consequences for the victim because instead of interrogating into choices of the perpetrator’s abusive behaviour, the victim is often judged with personality deficiencies and blamed for staying in a violent relationship.
Victims of abuse tend to go from one abusive relationship to another.
Evidence suggests that perpetrators of abuse tend to go from one abusive relationship to another. Most people who have successfully managed to escape a violent relationship are hypervigilant about subsequent relationships and cautious about choosing a different type of relationship the next time. A lot of people choose to remain alone rather than risk another potentially violent relationship.
Men are perpetrators, Women are the victims of domestic abuse.
Whilst both men and women may experience domestic abuse, women are more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of abuse, including sexual violence. Men are physically stronger than women, so it is easier for men to use violence to control women. It is possible to achieve positive transformation and sustainable long-term social change by gradually working towards short-term strategies. Perpetrators of abuse can be taught strategies for positive change, to be willing to relinquish control, change their beliefs and attitudes about women, take responsibility for their acts of violence and learn to control their violent behaviour. Subtler forms of controlling behaviour are more difficult to detect and eradicate.
A few more notable facts that indicate a high degree of control
- 85% of violent men are not abusive to anyone but their female partner
- Most abusive behaviour takes place only in private
- Abusers injure only those parts of the body that are usually covered by clothing.
- If negative consequences follow the use of violence (e.g. arrest), the reoffending rate falls.