Domestic violence myths

Myths and facts associated with domestic violence in Montana

Myth: Domestic violence doesn’t happen here.

Fact: Domestic violence happens everywhere. The only thing that needs to be present for domestic violence to happen is a person who uses abusive tactics to gain power and control in a relationship. Domestic violence may be overlooked or less apparent in communities that don’t match stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Myth: Domestic violence only happens in married relationships.

Fact: Domestic violence can happen in any intimate relationship, including between family members (like an adult grandchild abusing a grandparent). Domestic violence also occurs in intimate relationships that aren’t legally recognized as marriage, such as the relationship between two people of the same sex.

Myth: Women are abusive towards men just as often as men towards women.

Fact: Women can be abusers, but the large majority (85%) of violent relationships involve a male abuser and a female victim.

Myth: People in abusive relationships can always leave.

Fact: There are many, many reasons why leaving an abusing relationship is difficult or impossible.  The time when or immediately after a victim leaves an abusive relationship is the most dangerous for the victim.  Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship.

Myth: The kids don’t know that there is abuse in the home if it happens behind closed doors.

Fact: Kids know. Even if they don’t see the abuse, children can hear the arguments and see the aftermath both in terms of injury and behavioral changes in the parents. As children get older, they run the risk of falling into the same patterns of abuser or victim, and they are more likely to be hurt trying to protect an abused parent.

Myth: Abusers are unable to control their temper.

Fact: Abuse is about power and control. An abuser is in control of their behavior, including when they are behaving violently. Otherwise, they would be violent towards many people in their life, not just their intimate partner.

Myth: Poverty and alcohol cause domestic violence.

Fact: Domestic violence can happen in any relationship. Alcohol may cause the abuser to be less in control of their actions and thus the abuse may be more severe, which may make it more visible. Changes in the home can increase the likelihood that abuse will occur, but there isn’t a difference among economic classes.

Myth: Husbands cannot rape their wives.

Fact: Rape is sexual intercourse without consent, and marriage does not equal consent. Marital rape is illegal in Montana.

Myth: Domestic violence in same-sex relationships isn’t as bad as violence in opposite-sex relationships.

Fact: Abuse in same-sex relationships is just as severe as abuse in opposite-sex relationships.