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Myths About Abuse

Abuse is defined as a pattern of behaviors (such as emotional put-downs, extreme possessiveness, threats, isolation, sexual abuse, economic abuse, and physical abuse) used to gain and maintain power and control over another person. Here are some of the myths associated with abuse...

Fact or Myth? Abuse is caused by a momentary loss of control.

Myth – If this were true, then the abuser would be unable to “select” their victim. If they were out of control, the violence would not be limited to their family. They would “lose control” wherever, whenever, and at whomever they became angry with.

Fact or Myth? Victims in abusive relationships interact (on a conscious/unconscious level) in a way to provoke violence, increase the probability of its eruption, or in a way that maintains it.

Myth – Many people act in a way that provokes anger in another, but individuals cannot provoke violence. Violence is one behavioral choice a person can make when provoked. The fact is, an abuser has decided to become violent before the incident occurs. They look for a reason to carry out the act of violence. Most victims find that it doesn’t matter how “perfect” their behavior is, the abuser will find a “reason” to be abusive.

Fact or Myth? Drinking causes abuse.

Myth – While there is a high correlation between drinking and abuse (approximately 90%), the fact is that drinking does not cause abuse. Abusers become violent when sober or drunk. They use the fact that they were drinking as an excuse.

Fact or Myth? If he/she will just get counseling, they will see what they are doing is wrong and everything will be alright.

Myth – The effectiveness of counseling for the abuser is dependent upon several factors. 1) The willingness of the abuser to make changes and face the truth; 2) the skills and knowledge of a counselor regarding an abusive relationship; 3) whether the counseling is handled as couples counseling (which is far less effective and can seriously endanger the victim), individual or “abusers group” counseling; and 4) whether the community systems show a commitment to treating violence as criminal behavior punishable by law.

Fact or Myth? “It takes two to tango” if he/she goes to get help. So should the victim. He/she is just as responsible for the violence because they stay in the relationship and thereby condone the violence.

Myth – The only person who is responsible for the violence is the abuser. It is not the victim’s fault or responsibility.