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Myths and Realities
Everyone thinks that leaving is the easy part.
Samantha would agree. She had thought about it a hundred times. "It's what comes after leaving that stops you," she said. "I have two kids, no money, and nowhere to live. A shelter can only let me stay for three months and wouldn't let me keep my kids with me. Besides that, I haven't worked in eight years, and he said he would kill me if I left. So, I can think about leaving as much as I want, but I don't know how we will survive once I do."
Although both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, a disproportionately higher number of those who report violence in their relationships are women. Living in an abusive situation is more difficult than most people know. Below are some common misconceptions about domestic violence and the reality that too many women and children face every day.
The number of abused partners is a small percentage of the U.S. population.
Accurate statistics on the number of abused people are not available. Like rape, abuse is a highly under-reported crime. Estimates of the percentage of partners who are abused range from 20-50 percent.
This kind of abuse is restricted to poorly educated families from lower socio-economic classes.
Abuse is found in all socio-economic classes. An unusually high incidence is found among police, physicians, and men in helping professions. Several studies show a high correlation between increased physical abuse and increased formal education among violent men.
Intimate partners have always fought. It is natural and therefore can't be that bad.
The distinguishing feature of abuse is that it is a pattern of coercive control that may or may not include physical violence, but that is characterized by its severity and intensity. According to the police, the home, not the streets, is the "nursery school of violence." At least 85% of the men in prison grew up in a violent home. To eliminate violence in society, we must first eliminate violence in the home.
A slap never hurt anyone.
Domestic violence is distinguished by its frequency and intensity. It can last many years, and physical injuries can range from a black eye to broken bones. Those who are abused are frequently hospitalized and injuries can even lead to death. Over a third of the murders in America occur when one family member kills another. Another result is a loss of self-esteem and reduced feelings of self-worth and self-confidence.
Victims of abuse are really masochistic and enjoy it. Otherwise, they wouldn't stay.
Victims of abuse may be reluctant to leave for a complex set of reasons including safety, shame, fear, lack of money, or concern for the abuser. When a victim does leave, it does not guarantee that the beatings will stop. Batterers will often go to great lengths to trace their spouse or partner in order to continue the abuse. In fact, victims of abuse are more at risk for fatal injury at the hands of their abusers after they leave.
Victims of abuse are uneducated and have few job skills.
Unfortunately, victims of abuse are found at every level of education and job skills.
Wives batter their husbands too.
Yes, this is true. Available figures indicate that there is one abused husband for every ten abused wives. The difference lies in the extent of the violence. Women receive far greater physical injury than men.
Some people provoke their partners and deserve to get beaten.
No one deserves to be beaten, regardless of the situation. Beatings are generally unpredictable and do not depend on what victims say or how they act or whether they are passive or assertive. In addition, beatings tend to increase in frequency and severity over time.
Abusers are psychopathic.
This may not be the case. Abusers may lead normal lives in all aspects except their inability to control their aggressive impulses.
Abusers are violent in all their relationships.
A small percentage of abusers are violent with everyone but most abusers are only violent in their intimate relationships.
Want to learn more?
Call The Second Step at 617-965-3999 or contact your local domestic violence program for more information.
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The Second Step in the Boston Globe
October 27, 2012
A Rockin' Hot Evening for Renaissance Man and The Second Step
May 22, 2013
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