Myths And Facts Survivor Advocacy Center

Myths and Facts

Myth: Domestic violence occurs when someone is not able to control their anger.

Fact: Domestic violence is the result of the need to control and gain power in a relationship – it is not uncontrollable anger. It is a pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, and financially abusive behaviors that one person uses to gain and maintain power and control over another person in the context of a family or intimate relationship. The abusive person has a belief that they are entitled to power and control to the point that they often totally disregard the feelings of their partner. Outbursts of violence occur within this pattern of controlling behaviors. Often abusers simply cite anger management issues as an excuse or for a reason to justify their intentionally controlling behaviors.

The truth is that people who abuse their families and partners are often more than capable of controlling their anger. For example, abusers who are stressed or angry at work do not attack their bosses or coworkers.

When physical abuse is occurring, abusers will often only target parts of the body that are hidden by clothing or inflict injuries that leave less obvious marks. These types of behavior demonstrate that the abuser has the ability to control and manage their anger.

Myth: Sexual violence comes from uncontrollable sexual urges/lust.

Fact: Similar to domestic violence, sexual assault is about the dynamics of power and control over another person, not about sexual gratification. Many sexual abusers plan attacks, target individuals who are vulnerable in some way, or take precautions to avoid punishment — demonstrating that they are capable of controlling their urges and actions.

Myth: Domestic violence is usually a man abusing a woman in a heterosexual relationship.

Fact: Domestic violence happens to people of every sexual orientation, age, race, religion, gender, and socio-economic group. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience domestic violence than their straight counterparts. 61% of bisexual women, 44% of lesbian women, and 37% of bisexual men experience domestic violence; compared to 35% of heterosexual women, 29% of heterosexual men, and 26% of gay men.

Myth: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault effect all groups equally.

Fact: While domestic violence and sexual assault can and does happen to anyone, some groups are disproportionately impacted. People of every race, culture, and religion are impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault, but systemic racism, misogyny, homophobia, colonialism, and a long cultural history of varied forms of oppression make many groups, such as people of color, LGBTQ+ folx, and non-English speakers, more likely to face violence and less likely to receive the supports and help needed to move forward. Domestic and sexual violence are inextricably linked to oppression and therefore disproportionately affect marginalized groups.

Myth: If someone stays or goes back to an abusive relationship it’s because they were lying about the abuse or because the abuse wasn’t actually that bad. If it was really bad, they would just leave.

Fact: People stay and return to abusive relationships for a variety of reasons. Leaving an abuser can be complicated emotionally, legally, financially, and physically. The average person leaves and returns to an abusive relationship 7-12 times before they leave for good. Some of the many reasons a person might stay or return include limited or no access to financial security or resources, poor credit score, threats of violence from the abuser if they don’t return, fear of losing custody of their children, low self-esteem, fear of not being believed, religious/cultural/family pressure, fear of deportation, isolation from friends and family, and a lack of available community resources.

Myth: Rape is mostly committed by strangers.

Fact: 8/10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. One-third of rapes are committed by an intimate partner. Only 8% of sexual assaults against females and 15% of sexual assaults against males are committed by strangers. Most often, the survivor either knows, is familiar with, is intimate with, or is related to their abuser.

Myth: Stalking isn’t a serious or dangerous crime.

Fact: Stalking is a violent and dangerous offense. 72% of stalking victims were threatened with physical harm and 84% of victims felt fearful, threatened, or concerned for their safety. One in five stalkers use weapons to threaten their victims, and 1 in 7 victims relocate as a result of their victimization.

When stalking intersects with domestic and sexual violence, it is even more dangerous. Over half of stalkers are current or former intimate partners of their victims. Stalking in a relationship increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by 3 times. Women who were stalked after obtaining a protective order were more than nine times more likely to experience sexual assault than women with protective orders who were not stalked.

Myth: To protect children from sexual abuse, we need to teach them about stranger danger.

Fact: 93% of child sexual abusers are people known to the child. More than 1/3 are family members of the victim. While it is always good to teach children about safety in public and around strangers, the truth is that they are most likely to be sexually abused by someone they know. They younger the child, the more likely they are to know their perpetrator well.

Teaching children about their body parts, how to ask for help, how to identify their feelings, rules around privacy, and the importance of consent and respecting boundaries are all proven preventative factors against child sexual abuse. Giving your children the proper names for body parts and letting them know that it’s always okay to say “no” to touching and always okay to talk about touching are the most effective ways to protect them from CSA.

Myth: Human Trafficking doesn’t happen in suburban or rural areas.

Fact: Human trafficking occurs in all areas of the nation, including in Wayne County. The majority of human trafficking victims are trafficked by their intimate partner, a friend, or a family member. While instances of kidnapping and transporting people across state and national borders do happen, they are rare. In rural or suburban areas like ours, it is more common to see cases of parents trafficking their children in exchange for money, drugs, or rent; or to see an intimate partner trafficking their partner to friends, colleagues, or acquaintances.