Myths & Facts about Domestic Violence

Myth Fact
Domestic violence doesn’t affect many people.
  • A woman is beaten every 9 seconds.
  • The American Medical Association (AMA) and FBI estimate 3-4 million women are battered each year in the U.S.
  • Domestic Violence is the single greatest cause of injury to women.
  • The FBI estimates violence will occur during the course of two-thirds of all marriages.
Battered women are exaggerating; it’s not that serious.
  • An AMA report shows that every five years as many women are killed by their intimate partners as men, and women killed in the Viet Nam War … 54,000.
  • More than 75% of the women killed in Iowa were murdered by their intimate partner.
Domestic violence only occurs in poor, urban areas.
  • Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered – by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners.
  • White, Black and Hispanic women all incur about the same rates of violence committed by an intimate partner.
  • Approximately one-third of the men counseled for battering at Emerge (a nationally recognized batterers treatment program) are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives.
If a battered woman wanted to leave, she could.
  • Many women do leave abusive partners, more than 50%.
  • Leaving a battering partner may be the most dangerous time in that relationship. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship.
  • Social, economic, cultural, religious, or legal issues often keep battered women in an abusive relationship.
  • Many women want the violence, not the relationship to end. They may take many steps to try to stop the abuse; leaving the home may be their last resort.
Husbands and wives are equally violent.
  • 95% of domestic violence is reported by women – perpetrated against by their male partner.
  • When men are battered it is typically by their male intimate partner … battering occurs in gay and lesbian relationships at the same rate as heterosexual relationships – approximately 35%.
  • 80% of all violent crimes committed outside the home are committed by males … it is highly unlikely that women, generally peaceful and non-violent, would make up half of partner violence.
Battering is a momentary loss of temper.
  • Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse The violence may not happen often, but it remains a hidden and constant terrorizing factor.
  • More than 80% of male batterers are not physically aggressive towards any other adults in their lives. They solely assault their intimate partner. If battering were a mental illness or behavioral disorder batterers would assault others, in addition to their intimate partner.
  • A battering incident is rarely an isolated occurrence; beatings escalate in frequency and intensity. Assault is a crime whether it is committed within or outside the family.
Battering is caused by alcohol and drug abuse. Studies vary broadly (25-80%) on the rates of alcohol or substance abuse occurring simultaneously to battering. Clearly, an individual under the influence of a substance can cause more serious injuries. Most importantly, alcohol and substance abuse do not cause domestic violence, but they do severely complicate it. Many batterers do not use substances. These are issues that must be treated separately.
Batterers can’t change. Studies have shown that high consequences affect batterer’s decisions to continue the use of physical violence. The criminal justice system can hold batterers accountable for their actions and court order jail and counseling. Men who batter can learn to take responsibility for their own behavior and can learn non-violent ways to act and communicate. The programs for men who batter, however, are only as effective as the willingness of the batterer to change.