Friday, May 7, 2010

Myths about Domestic Violence

This week I attended a domestic violence workshop at work. The presenter was a man, which I loved. He was fully aware that many people are surprised to see a man as a domestic violence counselor. But think about what an effective presenter he must be when he speaks to a room full of men? About what is mainly a women's issue? His point was that men are key to changing the culture of violence. That's why I love the picture above.
Here are some of the things people say about domestic violence that are just wrong:
  • She asks for it. She knows how he gets.

There is no reason anyone should ever harm someone they love. Ever.

  • He only gets that way because he's drunk/high/angry.

While substance abuse can make things worse, there are underlying problems that cause domestic violence. If it were just an anger management issue, wouldn't the abuser be beating everyone in his life that made him angry?

  • If she hasn't left him yet, it can't be that bad.

  • If she hasn't left him yet, she must be crazy, stupid or she must like it.

See below for the many reasons people don't leave abusive relationships, even when it is obvious they should.

  • If he's not crazy jealous, he's not in love. He beats her because he loves her.

It sound tired, but love shouldn't hurt.

  • He doesn't know what he's doing. He always says he's sorry afterwards.

Of course he knows.

  • It won't happen to me. I know how to choose a man. They just don't know how to find a good man.

  • Only women get hurt by the people they love.

Domestic violence can and does happen to both women and men.

  • Abusers are unlovable. There's no way someone who beats his wife could be a charming, respected, outgoing person on the outside.

Sometimes abusers are the person everyone loves the most, the life of the party. Abusers often have very charming public personas. They can be persuasive, manipulative people that can be very hard to untangle your life from.

Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships:

Shame, not wanting to have to explain why she had to leave

Threats of death

A desire to preserve her family or fulfill a religious vow

Financial insecurity

An unsupportive, non-understanding family


*Here is an interesting comment someone from the training made:

"Cheating is a form of violence." Her rationale was that cheating is lying, it is deception and it is control of information. If your partner is controlling information about his/her sex life, what else are they controling? And abuse is all about control. Cheating also opens up risk of STDs to the unknowing partner. The decision to use a condom or not must be made with all information on the table.

But what do you think? Is cheating violent? Have you heard any other domestic violence myths?

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Cheating, depending on your definition, could be violence as the person explains. Primarily psychological. Purposefully acting with risk to your partner's health, definitely a form of violence. But, cheating has lots of definitions, and being a reader of Savage Love, I have to hold back on saying all cheating is violence.

I also see some really strange behaviors in Mozambique amongst couples. For instance, a man will leave on Friday, and only return home on Tuesday. He may be cheating, he may be drinking. I don't know. But what bothers me: how did it get to that point? Wasn't there a day when he didn't come home till Saturday? How was the line never drawn and the couple just continued to drift into separate social spheres? Can we consider this violence?