Myths and Facts about IPV

Myths & Facts about Domestic Violence

Only women are victims or Men and women are equally likely to be victims

  • Statistics suggest that anywhere from 82% to 95% of domestic violence (DV) is a man abusing a woman but DV occurs in same sex relationships and women abuse men

Anger control, alcohol/drugs, mental illness, communication problems, family origin issues, stress, poor impulse control, etc. “cause” domestic violence

  • Domestic violence is a chosen behavior.  It is not an “anger management problem” or “caused” by another condition, although other issues may exacerbate an abusive situation.
  • Many people have alcohol and/or drug problems but are not violent; similarly, many batterers are not substance abusers. It is often easier to blame an alcohol or drug abuse problem than to admit that you or your partner is violent even when sober.  Stress or unemployment does not cause batterers to abuse their partners. Advocates note that if stress caused domestic violence, batterers would assault their bosses or co-workers rather than their intimate partners. Domestic violence flourishes because society condones spouse or partner abuse, and because perpetrators learn that they can achieve what they want through the use of force, without facing serious consequences
  • Blaming abusive behavior on external factors “colludes” with the batterer and avoids holding him accountable for his choices

Victims of domestic violence are only from lower-income families with little education

  • Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life.  They may be from any age, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, or geographical group.

Victims provoke their abusers to become abusive

  • Victims are abused for not having dinner ready on time, for not emptying the ashtrays, for not answering telephone calls on the third ring, etc.  Regardless of what a person says, they do not deserve to be assaulted.

Violence in relationships is often Mutual Abuse, where both parties are equally involved in the abuse

  • In fact, in domestic disputes, closer scrutiny almost always shows that one partner is attempting to limit the other partner’s options (primary aggressor), and that the other is attempting to preserve or regain options for themselves (survivors).
  • Acts of self-defense are often mistaken for mutual aggression.
  • Survivors may occasionally respond to the tactics of the primary aggressor with outbursts of anger and retaliation. The behavior must be viewed within the context of the larger pattern and history of the relationship.

Why label it as domestic violence or battery when it may just be a situational response? What about Situational Abuse?

  • Some research completed with non-distressed individuals in a superficial manner considering past experiences have not supported the concept of primary aggressor abuse.  Research that considers the dynamics within the couple and includes times of distress, has identified multiple types of violence.  These include: Coercive-Controlling Violence (primary aggression), Violent Resistance (self-defense or survivor violence), and Situational Couple Violence
  • Situational Couples Violence is marked by unpredictable episodes of symmetrical physical violence which is not coercive in intensity by either side. This violence is meant to be expressive (however inappropriately so) and not controlling.

Comparisons of Two Types of Violence

Situational Couples Violence

Primary Aggression

Neither partner afraid of the other

One partner deeply afraid

Initiated by both partners

Initiated by a primary aggressor

Low injury because actions are technically an assault but not full force

Higher injury level because force is intended to 

inflict injury

Stops if partners separated

Increases if partners separated

Brief and self-limiting

Limited only by exhaustion

Both partners honest about facts

Primary aggressor shows strong denial

Does not escalate

Escalates over time

No effort to hide

Strong efforts to hide