Myths And Facts About Domestic Violence

Myth 1

Domestic violence does not affect many people.

    Fact:
  • A woman is beaten every 15 seconds. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the nation on Crime and Justice. The Data. Washington DC Office of Justice Program, U.S. Dept. of Justice. Oct 1983)
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to Women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States – more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991)
  • Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and to give birth to babies with low birth weights. (Surgeon General, United States, 1992)
Myth 2

Battering is only a momentary loss of temper.

    Fact:
  • Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, isolation, etc. to coerce and to control the other person. The violence may not happen often, but it remains as a hidden (and constant) terrorizing factor. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1990)
  • "One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person." (The Basics of Batterer Treatment, Common Purpose, Inc., Jamaica Plain, MA)
Myth 3

Domestic violence only occurs in poor, urban areas.

    Fact:
  • Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered – by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners. (Surgeon General Antonia Novello, as quoted in Domestic Violence: Battered Women, publication of the Reference Department of the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA)
  • Approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) at Emerge are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives." (For Shelter and Beyond, Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups, Boston, MA 1990)
Myth 4

Domestic violence is just a push, slap or punch – it does not produce serious injuries.

    Fact:
  • Battered Women are often severely injured – 22 to 35 percent of women who visit medical emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse. (Davis Adams, "Identifying the Assaultive Husband in Court: You be the Judge." Boston Bar Journal, 33-4, July/August 1989)
  • One in four pregnant women have a history of partner violence. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1992)
Myth 5

It is easy for battered women to leave their abuser.

    Fact:
  • Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay. (Barbara Hart, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1988)
  • Nationally, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home. (Senator Joseph Biden, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Violence Against Women: Victims of the System, 1991)
  • There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children. (Senate Judiciary Hearings, Violence Against Women Act, 1990)

From "Domestic Violence: The Facts" – A Handbook to STOP violence, Battered Women Fighting Back, Boston, MA.

More facts About Domestic Violence

  • Nearly 2 in 3 female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. iii)
  • Over two-thirds of violent victimizations against women were committed by someone known to them: 31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger. Approximately 28% were intimates such as husbands or boyfriends, 35% were acquaintances, and the remaining 5% were other relatives. (In contrast, victimizations by intimates and other relatives accounted for only 5% of all violent victimizations against men. Men were significantly more likely to have been victimized by acquaintances (50%) or strangers (44%) than by intimates or other relatives.) (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A Natural Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 1)
  • Almost 6 times as many women victimized by intimates (18%) as those victimized by strangers (3%) did not report their violent victimization to police because they feared reprisal from the offender. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A Natural Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 1)
  • Annually, compared to males, females experienced over 10 times as many incidents of violence by an intimate. On average each year, women experienced 572,032 violent victimizations at the hands of an intimate, compared to 48,983 incidents committed against men. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A Natural Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 6)
  • Battered women seek medical attention for injuries sustained as a consequence of domestic violence significantly more often after separation than during cohabitation; about 75% of the visits to emergency rooms by battered women occur after separation (Stark and Flitcraft, 1988). About 75% of the calls to law enforcement for intervention and assistance in domestic violence occur after separation from batterers. One study revealed that half of the homicides of female spouses and partners were committed by men after separation from batterers (Barbara Hart, Remarks to the Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, April 1992)
  • Twenty years ago, the first battered women’s shelter in the United States, Women’s Advocates, was opened in St. Paul, Minnesota. This program is still in existence today. (NCADV VOICE Spring, 1994)
  • There are 1,5000 shelters for battered women in the United States. There are 3,800 animal shelters (Schneider, 1990).
  • Each year, medical expenses from domestic violence total at least 3 to 5 billion dollars. Businesses forfeit another 100 million in lost wages, sick leave, absenteeism and non-productivity. (Domestic Violence for Health Care Providers, 3rd Edition, Colorado Domestic Violence Coalition, 1991)
  • It is estimated that 25% of workplace problems such as absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover and excessive use of medical benefits are due to family violence. (Employee Assistance Providers/MN)
  • Violence is the reason stated for divorce in 22% of middle class marriages. (EAP Digest November/December 1991)
  • From 1983 to 1991, the number of domestic violence reports received increased by almost 117%. (NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, 1983 and 1991)
  • 53% of battered women still involved with the perpetrator experienced self-blame for causing the violence. (Barnett, Martinez, Keyson. "The relationship between Violence, Social Support, and Self-blame in Battered Women." Journal of Interpersonal Violence. (1996): 221-33)