The tangled web of law, lore, and life in contemporary society with the myths of domestic violence

By: Louise Brunel, Chloe Manion, Elisabeth Marota, Sam Rowan, and Gaelen Weinberg

Domestic abuse is a topic many people tend to shy away from, as it can be uncomfortable to discuss. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly important to open up the narrative about domestic abuse to better understand its myths and how to address this rampant issue.

One common misconception about domestic abuse is that it is always physical; however, this is not always the case. Domestic abuse can take various forms, including psychological, verbal, emotional, economic, and physical. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states that emotional or psychological abuse can occur as frequently, if not more so, than physical violence, and can be just as damaging. Additionally, gaslighting—a covert type of emotional abuse where the abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality—is a common manipulation tactic in abusive relationships.

Another misconception is that domestic abuse only occurs in low-income families. Data from the state of Michigan reveals that 63% of welfare recipients have experienced some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, and domestic abuse was the primary reason for their current living situation. While this data shows a clear correlation between lower income levels and domestic abuse, it doesn’t prove that abuse occurs solely among the impoverished. Numerous instances of abuse among wealthy and high-profile individuals, such as the case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, demonstrate that domestic abuse isn’t an issue faced only by those of lower-income status.

Leaving an abusive relationship is rarely easy. The abuser aims to control their partner, often using methods like financial control, isolation from friends and family, emotional abuse to lower the victim’s self-worth, harassment, stalking, and gaslighting. Victims may find it difficult to leave due to financial and physical challenges, as well as emotional issues. They might struggle with a lack of access to bank accounts, no recent work experience, and lack of access to important legal documents. In addition to these factors, a victim trying to establish a new life away from their abuser may also have to deal with the emotional and mental damage of low self-esteem.

It’s a widespread misconception that domestic abuse only happens to females. Men can also experience domestic violence from women and other men. Due to the stigma surrounding masculinity and in the LGBT community, men are far less likely to report domestic abuse. While it’s less frequent for men, for every man hospitalized due to domestic violence, 46 women go to the hospital. Men are less likely to be injured by domestic abuse, but 1 in 7 men still experience some form of it during their lifetime.

While the use of drugs and/or alcohol can exacerbate abusive behavior, they do not cause it. Often, abusive behavior is wrongly blamed on substances instead of the perpetrator. This myth perpetuates the false notion that domestic abuse is caused by a single factor. In reality, abusive behavior—whether emotional, physical, financial, or psychological—is the result of multiple factors. Additionally, victims of domestic abuse are more likely than the general population to use drugs and/or alcohol as coping mechanisms.

Domestic abuse is an unfortunately common phenomenon. Despite this, it’s not discussed enough due to existing stigma. Educating ourselves about the myths of domestic abuse is the first step toward understanding and addressing this serious issue.

If you are in need of help:

National Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-7233

New Orleans Family Justice Center, 24 Hr Crisis Hotline (504) 866-9554


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