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Myths About Abuse

Myth #1: Domestic abuse is a rare occurrence.

The truth is…

  • 74% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been abused.
  • 33% of American women will be victims of abuse; 20% of severe physical abuse.
  • 25% of American men will be victims of abuse; 14% of severe physical abuse.
  • 37% of Texas women will experience abuse in their lifetimes.
  • 28% of Texas men will experience abuse in their lifetimes.
  • 33% of teenagers will experience abuse.
  • 10% of teenagers will experience physical abuse from a dating partner.
  • Over half the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by a current or former partner.
  • Battering is the leading cause of injury to American women.
  • 75% of the women who are injured once continue to experience ongoing abuse.

Myth #2: Domestic abuse is a private matter.

The truth is…

Because abuse is a difficult subject to talk about, it is often thought that if someone learns that a friend, acquaintance or loved one is in an abusive relationship (either as the abuser or victim), it is “none of their business” or “not their place to say anything.”  However, domestic abuse is often framed as a human rights issue, and even a public health crisis. 

Moreover, research has consistently shown that children who grow up in abusive homes and who witness abuse suffer significant deleterious effects on their physical and emotional wellbeing.  As these children cannot advocate for themselves, nor decide to “just leave,” domestic abuse is a public matter, not just “a family issue” or “private matter.”

Effects on children who witness abuse in their homes

Children who witness abuse may experience feelings of:

  • powerlessness
  • anger
  • guilt
  • fear

Children who witness abuse may experience:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • low self-esteem
  • sleep problems
  • difficulty at school

Children who witness abuse are more likely to:

  • drop out of school
  • abuse drugs and alcohol
  • become pregnant in their teens
  • commit violent crimes
  • enter into an abusive relationship when adults

Myth #3: Domestic abuse does not occur in “normal” relationships.

The truth is…

Domestic abuse does not discriminate.  Domestic abuse occurs in all types of relationships regardless of such factors as:

  • income level
  • socioeconomic status
  • sexual orientation
  • political affiliation
  • religious affiliation
  • education level
  • age
  • profession
  • creed
  • nationality
  • culture
  • relationship status
  • ethnicity
  • gender

Myth #4: The victim is somehow responsible for the abuse.

The truth is…

Abusive behavior is intentional—it is not about anger management and is never the victim’s fault.  Nothing anyone says or does gives anyone the right to hurt someone.  Abuse is a conscious, deliberate choice.  Therefore, when speaking with a survivor of abuse, avoid statements that inadvertently imply that they are somehow responsible for the abuse, such as:

  • “What did you say to her that made her so mad?”
  • “Didn’t he tell you not to wear that?”
  • “Hadn’t you guys been drinking?”
  • “You’re too smart to fall for that.”
  • “How could you let this happen?”
  • “Why don’t you just leave?”


Go to next section (If You Suspect Abuse)

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