5 Myths about Abuse

Sad woman lying on bed

In recent years, public conversations about intimate-partner violence and  gender-based  violence have become more commonplace, but misinformation about abuse persists. Recent media focus on violent crimes against women, such as the murders of Gabby Petito or Sara Everard, have drawn attention to some of the most pervasive misconceptions about abuse.

Here are 5 myths about intimate partner and gender-based violence and some facts to help clarify the truth about these issues:

1. Abusers commit violent crimes because they have trouble expressing or controlling their anger

Abusers are often able to resolve conflict in nonviolent ways in many areas of their lives, such as at work, or when out in public. Abuse is about control, and abusers may choose violence or other forms of abuse because they want to maintain power over their chosen victim.
Violence is not a random act that occurs outside of the abuser’s control.

2. Gender-based violence and intimate partner violence tend to occur in families with lower socio-economic statuses and in racialized communities.

People of any age, ethnicity, financial status or educational background can be victims — or perpetrators — of abuse.

3. Abuse is caused by alcohol or drug use

While it’s true that excessive alcohol or drug consumption may worsen violence, they are not the cause of abuse. These are complicated and overlapping issues, but it is important to note that many abusers commit violence when they are entirely sober, and abusers are always
responsible for their actions, even when drugs or alcohol are present.

4. Abuse only occurs in heterosexual relationships

Abuse is about control within a relationship and can occur between partners of any gender. Abuse that occurs in relationships between two men is often dismissed as fighting between two equals, but abuse or violence in a relationship is never acceptable.

5. Abusers can be easily identified

Abusers may behave in an entirely different way when they are alone with their chosen victim than they do in public. Abusers may present very normally, and may even hold positions of status in their communities, which can make it harder for survivors to come forward and feel they will be believed.

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