Mother holding young daughter, both are smilingMyths and Facts

Domestic violence affects only a small percentage of the population.

Fact: More than 1 in 4 women (27%) and more than 1 in 10 men (12%) have reported experiencing sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner and suffered significant impacts such as PTSD and injury as a result.1 On average, more than 3 women are murdered by their partner in this country every single day.2 Domestic violence affects people of all ages, sexes, cultures, religions, professions and income levels, yet remains widely under-reported.

Domestic violence only occurs in low-income, uneducated and minority populations.

Fact: Intimate partner violence occurs among all types of families, regardless of income, profession, religion, ethnicity, educational level or race. That low-income people are over-represented in calls to police, shelters and social services may be due to a lack of other resources at their disposal.

Drug and alcohol use is connected to domestic violence.

Fact: While drugs and alcohol are often present in domestic violence situations, they are not a cause of violence and abuse between partners. However, the presence of drugs and/or alcohol can make a domestic violence situation become much worse and has been shown to increase risk of fatality for victims.

Domestic violence incidents are isolated occurrences.

Fact: Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior aimed at gaining and maintaining power and control over an intimate partner. The pattern is often described as a cycle. However, because the seriousness of abuse often escalates with each episode, many survivors describe the pattern as a spiral.

The survivor can always leave.

Fact: Leaving an abusive partner is often the most dangerous time in a relationship. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship.3 75% of domestic violence homicides and assaults occur during this time.4 This is a powerful deterrent to leaving. Often a person who leaves is tracked by the abuser and threatened with harm if the person does not return. The nature of domestic violence also encourages conditions that keep a person economically dependent and socially isolated. Get more information about why people stay.

Domestic violence has only occurred if there was physical or sexual abuse.

Fact: Violence and abuse show up differently for every survivor. While abusers frequently use physical and sexual abuse against spouses and partners to maintain dominance and power, abusers also frequently use psychological, emotional and economic abuse tactics to maintain control. Read more about the definition of domestic violence and different types of abuse.

Mental illness is a cause of domestic violence.

Fact: Many people suffer from mental health challenges. Few of them abuse their partners. Some mental health concerns can cause people to be violent, but they will often be violent in all of their relationships, not just with their intimate partners. It’s important to remember that mental illness should never be considered a cause of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is the victim’s fault.

Fact: Those who choose to abuse always have a choice. Abusers use abusive tactics to gain and maintain power and control. No matter a person’s background or situation, no one deserves to be abused by someone they love.