4 Myths About Domestic Violence
By Emilie Trepanier
There are many myths about domestic violence that minimize the impact it has on survivors. Whether you’re an advocate or a survivor yourself, this article is meant for you.
It is easy to leave, and if you don’t then you’re weak.
“Why didn’t they just leave?”
It is said so often that it almost sounds like a cliche at this point. First, it is important to know that the “why” doesn’t matter when it comes to helping survivors. We could spend years trying to uncover the reasons why humans remain loyal to other humans. Once you realize that the “why” is not important when it comes to being an advocate, you’ll be able to empathize. After you accept this fact, you can dive into manipulation tactics and fear for the victim’s loved ones, in addition to other fears related to safety. There are so many reasons why a victim doesn’t leave, and it is important not to push them to, either. A victim needs to be in a place where leaving is safe, and if you can be a safe place for them on top of that, you can help them go.
Once you leave, everything is a-okay!
Leaving an abusive relationship is a very powerful step to healing. However, domestic violence is a series of traumatic events that affect both the body and brain for an unknown amount of time. According to the Pheonix Society for Burn Survivors, when a person experiences trauma, adrenalin and other neurochemicals rush to the brain and “print” a picture there. The memory then loops in the emotional side of the brain, disconnecting from the “reason” and cognitive processing part of the brain. Because of this disconnect, the logical side of the brain can’t he;p the emotional side get away from the trauma.
In order to heal from abuse, victims need resources. Therapy is vital, but it is also expensive. Recovery centers provide more resources, but many victims are ashamed to seek help. At this point, supporting resources offered to survivors in addition to changing the conversation around how domestic violence issues are discussed is a good first step to helping victims seek help.
Since the majority of domestic violence victims are women, that makes it a women’s issue (and only men are abusers).
According to The Washington Post, 1 in 7 men in the United States have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. In addition, 29% of heterosexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, and for homosexual men, “the prevalence of severe physical violence by an intimate partner” is 16.4%. It is also estimated that up to 1 in 2 queer women and 1 in 3 queer men experience some sort of intimate partner violence.
Men experience domestic violence on a large scale as well, but are regularly told to “man up,” or in some cases even turned away by recovery centers. LGBTQ+ individuals are afraid to reach out due to homophobic rhetoric. Overall, domestic violence is a human issue. We have to support all survivors, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Abuse is only real if there is physical evidence.
Emotional and psychological trauma will leave scars on the mind. Just because a victim doesn’t have bruises, doesn’t mean abuse didn’t happen. Abuse can be verbal, sexual, emotional, digital, or physical. When there is a pattern of behavior that manipulates, hurts, or puts a victim in danger; it is abuse. Many law enforcement officers now receive training on how to detect non-physical domestic abuse.
As discussed in myth #2, trauma is trauma, and all kinds of it leave marks on the mind. The best way to be aware of signs of abuse is to educate yourself on them, and then to talk about it. Talk about it with friends, family, and especially young people such as teenagers who are entering relationships of their own.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.