As a victim of domestic violence, I learned that there were many stereotypes, misconceptions, or myths about abuse victims and their abusers. Before having lived through it myself, I also believed some of these myths. Until having been in an abusive relationship, there is no way to understand the dynamics of the relationship or the abnormal thought process of many victims. These are some of the misconceptions I had, or have had placed on me by others:
1. The victim must like being beaten, or they would leave.
I remember saying this about a close relative, before I became a victim myself. I think this may be one of the cruelest of assumptions one can make. Victims of abuse are not only physically abused; they are mentally and emotionally abused as well. There are many reasons why victims stay in an unhealthy relationship.
- One of the most common reasons is fear that their abuser will find them and kill them. They see their abuser as having unlimited power and resources because they feel so helpless themselves.
- Guilt is a common reason for the victim to stay in the relationship. The victim believes that they are responsible for their abuser’s happiness, and the abuser cannot make it without them. When I left my ex-husband it felt like I was abandoning one of my children. I felt like I was the one doing something wrong.
- Some victims stay with their abusers because they feel like their children are better off with both parents in their life. Not all abusers physically abuse their children. However, it is mental and emotional abuse for them to witness violence, especially by a parent, against a parent. (In some states it is a felony to commit an act of violence in the presence of a minor.)
- Another reason I stayed with my abuser as long as I did was because I had no job skills and did not think that I could make it on my own, especially with 4 kids to feed.
2. Abusers and their victims are low class, drug/alcohol abusers.
Unfortunately domestic violence affects people of every race, social/economical class and lifestyle. I did not drink alcohol or use drugs at all until after I became a victim.
3. Abusers are always males.
Not all domestic violence is committed by a male against a female. When I lived in the battered women’s shelter several lesbian victims lived in the shelter as well, who had been abused by their female partner. I have personally known several men who were abused by their wives. There are no shelters for battered men, or much support at all for men who find themselves in this situation. They were raised believing that a man does not hit a woman for any reason. These men live with great shame because they feel like they are less of a man for being abused by their wives.
If you have never experienced domestic violence, you cannot understand, place blame, or pass judgment on the victim. If you or someone you know needs help contact http://www.thehotline.org/.